One of my primary roles as general counsel of a technology company is to protect and enforce intellectual property rights. I spend nearly every day in pursuit of modern-day corporate bandits who have stolen our patents, copyrights or trademarks. That is why I was encouraged when I first heard mention of legislation aimed at curtailing online piracy.
I assumed such bills would carefully balance the interests of property protection with the Internet community at large and efficiently target perpetrators while taking into consideration security, due process and free speech issues. I realized I was more than a little mistaken when I began to read and understand "SOPA" and "PIPA," the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act.
These two bills give copyright owners and the federal government the right to take legal action against any websites that either contain or enable the distribution of copyrighted materials. They would grant the U.S. attorney general expanded power to prevent Internet service providers, advertisers, search engines and payment processors from doing business with offenders. The federal government and any complaining entity would be able to effectively shut down the most popular sites over even minor or unintended copyright infringement.