(CBS) - Talk show host Jon Stewart made his first mention of the Stop Online Piracy Act on last night's episode of "The Daily Show."
A member of the link-sharing community Reddit named "place_face" was in the audience and got to ask Stewart a question during the pre-show question and answers segment.
"The Internet sent me to ask you what you think of SOPA and why you haven't mentioned it on the show," said the Redditor. Stewart said he hadn't heard of the controversial bill because he and his staff have had their heads up their "asses" in U.S. presidential elections.
"Tomorrow night our guest will be the Internet," Stewart said during the show's introduction. He went on to say that he had a lot of reading to do. And "the Internet" has been basking in the afterglow ever since.
Not to doubt Stewart and his staff, but it seems unlikely that he's never heard of SOPA. The more probable scenario is that he's glossed over it, but is just busy with, oh, I don't know...the fate of our country's leadership.
Business Insider contributor Jeff Jarvis happened to be in the crowd and said he witnessed the exchange.
"Mr. Stewart: The problem here is that [cough] your industry, entertainment, is trying to give power the power to blacklist and turn off sites if they're so much as accused of "pirating" (their word, not ours) content," Jarvis said and went on to give a final plea to Stewart. "So please, sir we need your force of virtue to beat down this, another evil. On behalf of The Internet, thank you."
Here's the problem with pinning all hopes of beating SOPA on Stewart: "The Daily Show" has to worry about ratings and DVD sales like any other show on television. That's how they can pay the staff to continue making the show. I doubt he's jumping at the chance to encourage more downloads and online streaming of the show.
I wouldn't hold your breath for a full SOPA segment on the "The Daily Show" before any real action takes place in Congress.
SOPA is intended to curb the illegal download of copyrighted materials from foreign "rogue" sites, like The Pirate Bay. There is already legislation that provides some protection for copyrighted material, like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which requires companies to remove copyrighted content "in good faith."
Worst-case scenarios are being debated. The Electronic Frontier Foundation speculates, "Instead of complying with the DMCA, a copyright owner may now be able to use these new provisions to effectively shut down a site by cutting off access to its domain name, its search engine hits, its ads, and its other financing even if the safe harbors would apply."