The Stop Online Piracy Act

SOPA is the abbreviated name of the Stop Online Piracy Act of 2011 (HR 3261). It is a United States House of Representatives Bill that proposes to expand the ability for American intellectual property owners to protect their interests online by creating stronger mechanisms for combating infringement of American intellectual property, especially against foreign-owned and operated websites (what the Bill terms ‘rogue websites’). The Bill focuses on copyright in particular. The PROTECT IP Act of 2011 (S 968), introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy on 12 May 2011,  is a similar United States Senate Bill to SOPA.

SOPA’s full title is, “To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes.”

The Bill was introduced by Republican Representative Lamar Smith, Representative from Texas’s 21st District (TX-21), on 26 October 2011. At introduction it has 11 bipartisan co-sponsors.

UPDATE 21 January 2012, 9.11 AM In response to Democrat Senate Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid‘s decision to postpone a vote on the PROTECT IP Act of 2011, Representative Smith, acting as the the Chairman of the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, announced that the Committee will “… postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.” Both announcements were made on 20 January 2012.

Key provisions

If enacted, the Bill will introduce a number of provisions that are similar to those proposed by the PROTECT IP Act.


SOURCE: ‘Bill Summary & Status, 112th Congress (2011 – 2012), H.R,3261, Cosponsors‘ Thomas search on The Library of Congress website. Last queried 29 January 2012.

About key players

About Representative Lamar Smith

Representative Lamar Smith is a member of the Republican Party and the Representative from Texas’s 21st District (TX-21). Rep Smith is the Chairman of the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary for the 112th Congress.

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