US Movie Studios Seek SOPA Power Through Broad Site-Blocking Order

Major movie studios are again trying to make a website they don’t like disappear without a trial. This time, the studios are asking for one court order to bind every domain name registrar, registry, hosting provider, payment processor, caching service, advertising network, social network, and bulletin board — in short, the entire Internet — to block and filter a site called Movietube. If they succeed, the studios could set a dangerous precedent for quick website blocking with little or no court supervision, and with Internet service and infrastructure companies conscripted as enforcers. That precedent would create a powerful tool of censorship — which we think should be called SOPApower, given its similarity to the ill-fated SOPA bill. It will be abused, which is why it’s important to stop it from being created in the first place.In 2012, the Internet community stopped SOPA, a bill that would have created new, easy-to-obtain court orders against domain name registrars, ad networks, payment providers, and search engines to force them to cut off service to a website accused of “facilitating” copyright or trademark infringement. Everyone from network engineers to civic organizations to entrepreneurs to millions of ordinary Internet users spoke out against the bill. Constitutional scholars showed how SOPA orders could act as prior restraints on speech, one of the most egregious forms of First Amendment violation. The Internet’s architects helped explain how using the domain name system (DNS) for site blocking would undermine the Internet’s security and empower the censorship efforts of repressive governments. You, the Internet community, helped Congress understand that SOPApower will inevitably be abused to silence marginalized or unpopular opinions. Congress shelved the bill and hasn’t brought it back.

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