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SXSW Interactive 2016

Zombie SOPA: A New Threat to the Open Internet

The controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was defeated in Congress, but there have been backdoor efforts to revive it. One of the most surprising is happening at the International Trade Commission, a little-known agency with powers to stop importation of articles based on copyrights or patents.

Last year, the ITC decided Internet downloads constitute “importation of articles,” allowing the ITC to block Internet content. Companies fear for cloud computing’s future, civil society worries about Internet openness, and the MPAA wants to use the agency to implement SOPA-style website blocking.

We’ll discuss how we got here, where the decision may go, and what is being done about it.

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  1. How did we arrive at this situation where anyone who downloads data from the Internet can be haled before a trade agency for unlawful importation?
  2. SOPA attempted to give content companies power to block access to websites. How do content companies now hope to use the ITC to block website access?
  3. What can advocates of an open Internet do to stop these actions?



Charles Duan, Director, Patent Reform Project, Public Knowledge

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