H.R.3261, better known as the Stop Online Piracy Act, is a bill currently before Congress that seeks to expand the abilities of law enforcement and copyright holders to... stop online piracy. As expected the bill is very unpopular with just about anyone who uses the Internet. Legal analysts see the bill as over reaching, with many unintended consequences such as shutting down legitimate Internet business, and many questioning the constitutionality of the bill.
The bill is still currently in committee but could come up for a vote Wednesday in the House.
Erik Martin, manager of the popular sharing site Reddit, has added his voice to the dissent against the bill by saying that the measures would lead to the eventual shutdown of Reddit.
If SOPA passes in anything like its current form, it would almost certainly mean the end of Reddit. It may not happen overnight, but we have a very small staff (~11, mostly engineers), and even dealing with DMCA stuff is a big burden for us. SOPA would make running Reddit near impossible. And we have access to great lawyers through our parent company. I can’t imagine how smaller sites without those kind of resources could even attempt a go at it if SOPA passes.
Reddit is owned by Advance Publications, who also owns publishing company Conde Nast. Reddit was a part of Conde Nast until it was spun off eariler this year.
The current law that governs the majority copyright claims on the Internet which was has been in effect since 1996, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, only requires that sites like Reddit (and for that matter, Neowin) comply with requests to remove infringing content or links. Under SOPA, these sites could be found to be facilitating infringement, and be subject to arrest as SOPA would also make unauthorized downloading of copyright material a felony.
Social networking companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google have also previously spoken out about the threat SOPA could have to their businesses.