Long Reach of SOPA, PIPA Legislation Worried International Observers
NEWS ANALYSIS: Even though SOPA and PIPA look like they are headed to the legislative scrap heap, the rest of the world worries about U.S. intrusion into global copyright policy.The week when Wikipedia's English edition went dark, it was only the most visible sign of a great level of global concern about the attempts by U.S. lawmakers to assert their views of copyright law on the rest of the world. One of the provisions of the two proposed laws would give judges in the United States the power to authorize U.S. law enforcement officers to effectively take down foreign Websites that were alleged to contain pirated content. Under the proposed legislation, the method of taking these sites offline varies. In some cases, a judge could order search engines to stop serving up results from allegedly offending sites. In other cases, payment processing sites could be ordered to stop processing payments, which would kill them just as effectively. Worse, halting the payment processing action would only require an assertion by someone who claimed to be a copyright holder who issued a letter giving five days' warning. No judicial review would be required.
I learned about the depths of these concerns during a series of appearances on foreign talk shows. In conversations with journalists involved with Al Jazeera's "Inside Story" show there were questions about why the entire U.S. legal system was catering to a relatively small set of interests. On Russia Today's "Crosstalk" program, there were similar questions. But while preparing for the show, I heard many concerns about why the United States thought it should be able to impose its laws on foreign countries.