You may have heard about H.R. 3261, better known as the Stop Online Piracy Act. It is a bill in the US House of Representatives that seeks to expand the Federal Government’s power for the purpose of putting an end to piracy online. This has caused much debate and concern, so I thought I’d weigh in with my two cents. Interestingly enough, I could not find anything on the websites for Mises, Lew Rockwell, Freedom Works or the Libertarian Party about SOPA. I figured it would be something that would be lighting up their circuits. Apparently not.
Now I don’t know all of the details of this bill, but I don’t think I need to. Whatever the particulars of such a measures are, they all boil down to the same basic issue: using federal authority to stop the exchange of copyrighted material for no cost and without the consent of the original publisher. I’m aware that copyright law does exist, and I’m also certain that a deep read of the act would simply involve nothing more than a specification for new authority and powers given to the Executive branch for the purpose of enforcement of the existing law. I highly doubt that any new laws are being defined here. But even given these factors, H.R. 3261 cannot but have four basic, fundamental flaws that preclude it from being a legitimate use of Federal power.