The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), in theory, should mean only good things for those concerned with intellectual property (IP) law. Well, those on the good side of IP law. For the violators, it might be a different story. So why is this act, which aims to further protect copyrighted intellectual property, facing so much controversy? Controversy and politics go hand-in-hand. It’s tough to get everyone to agree on one thing, regardless of what that is. Supporters of the bill say it protects the intellectual property market and is necessary to enforce copyright laws, especially against foreign websites. Those who oppose the bill claim that it’s Internet censorship. For those who are unfamiliar with the bill, basically it will allow the U.S. Department of Justice as well as copyright holders to obtain court orders against websites who enable or facilitate copyright infringement. The consequences can range from the banning of online advertisement to the banning of a website from search engines entirely. With the markup scheduled for December 15, we thought it’d be a good topic of discussion. Naturally, at Shelton & Power, we aim to preserve intellectual property law. However, we recognize that the Internet has caused a lot of gray areas surrounding the law. We believe the idea behind SOPA is a noble one. If done correctly, it will prevent pirates from profiting from theft. But it needs to be done properly. Due process, free speech, and privacy rights can’t be compromised. If you’re on the fence, we’d like to offer some food for thought via U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte: Intellectual property is one of America’s chief job creators and competitive advantages in the global marketplace, yet American inventors, authors, and entrepreneurs have been forced to stand by and watch as their works are stolen by foreign infringers beyond the reach of current U.S. laws. This legislation will update the laws to ensure that the economic incentives our Framers enshrined in the Constitution over 220 years ago – to encourage new writings, research, products and services – remain effective in the 21st Century’s global marketplace, which will create more American jobs. The bill will also protect consumers from dangerous counterfeit products, such as fake drugs, automobile parts and infant formula.