While the evolution and potential consequences of the bill could easily fill a few dozen pages, here’s the two-minute drill: the U.S. federal government has been under pressure by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to do something about the pirating of copyrighted material.
SOPA, the House bill, and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), its Senate equivalent, were drafted in response to this pressure, and ultimately would have punished those found guilty of copyright violations. They also would have vastly changed the internet, including the very real possibility of ending blogging as we know it.
Thanks to an impressive public outcry, SOPA and PIPA seem to be dead in the water, for now at least. That’s good news for us, but the death of the bills hasn’t stopped the U.S. government from arresting the founder of Megaupload, Kim Schmitz (who also goes by Kim Dotcom, his new legal name).
According to the Boston Globe, Dotcom allegedly earned some $42 million from Megaupload last year, enough to buy him a globe-hopping lifestyle with residences in Hong Kong and New Zealand. He’s a car guy, too, and GT Spirit points out that he’s a two time Gumball 3000 participant.
Following Dotcom’s arrest, at least part of his car collection was seized, including a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe, multiple Mercedes-Benz CLK DTMs, a Lamborghini LM002 SUV and a Maserati Gran Cabrio. Those were just part of the assets taken in New Zealand, so it’s likely the list will grow in the coming months.
Wrap your head around this for a second: Dotcom holds dual citizenship in Finland and Germany, yet was arrested in New Zealand under a warrant from the U.S. government. His case will be tried in Virginia, since some of the allegedly pirated material relating to Megaupload was found on servers in that state.
SOPA and PIPA may be dead, but the issue of internet freedom versus copyright protection certainly isn’t.