Here's a bit of law to ponder on. First, Copyrights:
The law automatically protects a work that is created and fixed in a tangible medium of expression on or after January 1, 1978, from the moment of its creation and gives it a term lasting for the author’s life plus an additional 70 years. For a “joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire,” the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author’s death. For works made for hire and anonymous and pseudonymous works, the duration of copyright is 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter (unless the author’s identity is later revealed in Copyright Office records, in which case the term becomes the author’s life plus 70 years). For more information about works made for hire, see Circular 9, Works Made for Hire under the 1976 Copyright Act. For details about pseudonymous works, see fl 101, Pseudonyms.1
The Constitutional authority for the above rests with Art. I section 8, clause 8: To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
It can be argued that Congress has exceeded its authority, the life of an author +70 years is hardly a limited time. The same can be said of the life of "Works Made For Hire."
But that is a layman's argument and hardly a legal argument.
Regardless, contrast those IP (Intellectual Property) rights with patent rights (another form of IP):
A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor. Patents are granted for new, useful and non-obvious inventions for a period of 20 years from the filing date of a patent application, and provide the right to exclude others from exploiting the invention during that period.2
This seeming disparity of limited time (between copyrights and patents) has been an ongoing thorn in the side of technology and its creators (read, Big Business). Most of the original push for longer times, has come from the recording industry and Hollywood. As have the more recent laws comprising the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act).
In order to quash SOPA and PIPA, it must come from a genuine ground swell movement. In the face of such a large lobby group however, it may not be possible to derail.
I urge everyone to contact their federal representatives by phone, mail and email. The more the better.