This is an article you should read, perhaps ironically published by The Daily Telegraph in London, as big a media company as one could find.
Spurred on by big media companies, the latest effort by governments to stamp out piracy comes in the form of two bills from the US Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
According to these acts, if a US site (or a foreign site that has its domain name registered in the US) is found to be ‘committing or facilitating the commission’ of copyright infringment, then, on the request of a rights holder, it is subject to seizure in a way that many scholars believe violates due process, depriving people of a fair hearing and suppressing free speech.
It gets worse. If the targeted site is not based in the US and thus cannot be seized, then the following actions must occur:
1) US sites and search engines must remove all links to the foreign site
2) US advertising services must no longer serve ads linking to the site, or display ads on the foreign site
3) US payment networks must cease all transactions between the foreign site and US customers
4) US service providers to block access to the foreign site via DNS blacklisting
In other words, a rights holder would be able to accuse a website anywhere in the world of facilitating piracy simply because a user posted a comment linking to a file sharing site, and the site would completely vanish from the internet. Anyone using any US-based search engine (which includes pretty much everyone in the UK) would not be able to find it, and anyone in the US would discover that typing in its URL would lead to nowhere.
If I understand this right, what I have just done I could no longer legally do with repercussions almost impossible to determine before the fact.
Update: It seems that there is quite a lot of re-assessment going on in the American Congress. This is a story about Senator Marco Rubio withdrawing his support which contains the following description of the Bill:
SOPA would allow the U.S. attorney general to seek a court order to shut down access to offshore Web sites. Once the court order is granted, the attorney general could force U.S. Internet service providers to block the sites.
In addition, according to CNET the bill could end up requiring ISP’s to monitor what web sites individuals visit and block sites that may be infringing on copyright.
The bill would essentially create a blacklist of potentially millions of websites that may or may not be engaged in copyright infringement regarding movies, television, and music.
So, a site like YouTube or Wikipedia could be blacklisted due to alleged copyright infringement.