In 2012, a bill moved through the US House infamously called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). It was a draconian piece of legislation that aimed to give copyright holders the ability to order that search engines, payment processors, and ISPs cut all ties with any website that was deemed to be violating that copyright. With no judicial review of any kind, copyright holders could simply take entire sites down if they felt their claim was justified. The bill was killed before it was ever voted on, in large part due to public outcry regarding its vast overreach.

Fast forward to the present, the same movie studios that would have benefited from SOPA are now trying to use the powers of the bill as if it was law. Every major studio has joined into a request for a court order to block a site called Movietube from existing on the internet. If granted, the order would require everything, from domain name registrars to hosting companies and social media sites to filter out Movietube entirely.

Movietube looks to be an attractive proof of concept for the studios to set a (bad) precedent. It's a foreign website with unknown owners, who are likely not in a position to defend themselves in a US court. However, if successful, there's no reason this order could not be used against any other website in the world. Someone who posts copyrighted material to their personal Facebook page could theoretically take down all of Facebook.

The order was filed July 29th in the Southern District Court of New York, and the studios are looking for fast action so we may not have long to wait to see whether SOPA's powers will exist even though the law does not.