SOPA & PIPA – Why Should Realtors Care?

What is the fundamental issue?

Two online piracy bills were recently introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) H. R. 3261 and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) S. 968. These bills have garnered a storm of media attention in the past few weeks.

The bills main targets are “rogue” overseas sites like torrent hub and The Pirate Bay, which are a trove for illegal downloads of movies and other digital content. The bill would authorize the U. S. Department of Justice to seek court orders against websites accused of infringing on copyrights, or of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. After delivering a court order, the US Attorney General could require US-directed Internet service providers, ad networks, and payment processors to suspend doing business with sites found to infringe on federal criminal intellectual property laws. The Attorney General could also bar search engines from displaying links to the sites.

These bills appear to have stalled while the interested parties on both sides of the issue seek consensus on how to move forward.

I am a real estate professional. What does this mean for my business?

Real estate professionals create valuable content/intellectual property that is increasingly distributed on the internet. That content must be carefully protected from theft in a manner that does not create serious unintended consequences for members doing business on the internet.

NAR Policy:

While NAR has taken no position on the bills yet, they are carefully weighing both the need to protect our members’ intellectual property through copyright and trademark law while avoiding harmful unintended consequences for our members who increasingly do their business on the internet.

They are working through our policy committee process to determine our position on this issue.

Legislative/Regulatory Status/Outlook

The Senate announced that consideration on S. 968 will be delayed until consensus is reach on a process for moving forward. Sen. Leahy (D-VT) has announced that an amended version of the bill will released soon.

H. R. 3261 is scheduled to be marked up in the House Judiciary Committee in February. This too could be pushed back.


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