It's late in the afternoon. Mike had just turned off the television finding nothing of interest to watch, when there was a loud knock at his front door.
Mike opened the door and sees three men dressed in black commando fatigues on his door step. "May I help you," he asks?
"Mr. Godwin?" the first agent asks.
"Yes, I'm Mike Godwin[i]...who are you?"
"We're with the SOPA enforcement department of the government."
Mike stares back blankly, "The what..?"
"SOPA - Suppress Offending Pizza Assembly. We have a report of a few local pizza restaurants that are using patented sauce application methods, so we're here to update your phone book as mandated by the law. Please step aside." And with that, the three agents push past Mr. Godwin and move toward the phone book on a table across the room.
Mike had been through this a couple of times in the past under different department names. The first few visits replaced the pages of the phonebook for "escort" services and some shady pharmacies selling counterfeit drugs. Mike knew he didn't want his kids having access to those sites so he and his neighbors readily accepted the changes. But lately the changes had been for other things that didn't seem all that necessary...
"So, what is going on with these pizza places? Are they fronts for drug dealers or human trafficking," Mike asked. "I have a couple tips on some places I drive by on my way to work that we're certain are up to no good - I can give you their address if you want..."
"Hmm, no," the second agent responded, cutting off Mike. "We need a reputable source[ii] to take this sort of action, not hear-say." He resumed thumbing through the phone book, tearing out pages and replacing them with pre-printed pages they brought along.
"So, what were these pizza restaurants doing?"
Agent one turns toward Mike, obviously agitated in his questions. "They were found to have been infringing on highly guarded trade secrets."
"What? You mean they stole the recipe for the dough or sauce...?"
"No, much more insidious. We have reports from highly trusted individuals that they were infringing on the sauce application procedure as documented in the patent held by Pizza Shack and cross-licensed to Dice Pizza[iii]."
Mike remembered that case, it made news a couple years ago. Pizza Shack had settled a case out of court against another national pizza chain, Dice Pizza. The argument by Dice Pizza was that the crust/sauce/cheese was the logical order to begin making a pizza, but Pizza Shack had received a patent for just that process a few years earlier and had successfully put a number of smaller pizza restaurants out of business. The end result of this settlement was that Dice Pizza could put the sauce on between the dough and cheese, and they would allow Pizza Shack to use their patented "automobile pizza delivery" method Dice Pizza had patented around the same time.
Mike looked over their shoulders and saw one page being replaced. "Wow, I had no idea "Pauls Pizza" and "Kevins Resturaunt" were doing this. Were any of you involved in the surveillance or a sting operation?"
"No, we're too busy changing out the phone book pages to do that work. Thankfully Pizza Shack provided us with a list of infringing sites, so that makes our job a lot easier."
"Wait, what? You're just taking their word without checking into it yourself?"
"Oh, it's all legal - SOPA and the DMCA laws allow for this, and since there's no way our department could check all of these reports, we're grateful for their assistance."
After a few minutes agent one reports, "Our work is done for now. Please remember it's up to each person to be vigilant in the war on terror...I mean intellectual property piracy. Please inform us of any neighbors who might be using outdated or other phone books so we can keep them updated, too." And with that, the agents closed the phone book and walk out the door.
Mike picked up the phone book and turns to the section marked "Pizza". The page that use to contain ads for the offending restaurants was replaced with a new page only showing "Pizza Shack" and "Dice Pizza".
"What about "Mr. Levi's Pizzeria? That's one of our favorite places?!?" Mike knew they would be in the clear with SOPA because their big claim was they didn't use pizza sauce[iv], so they couldn't possibly break this law.
Mikes young daughter entered carrying a small phone book, but this one is from a foreign city. "Here dad, I got this from a friend in school. She was able to snag a copy when she was visiting her grandmother in Romania - they don't have SOPA or the DMCA there, so this is a complete un-censored phone book."
She opened the page and showed him hundreds of listings for pizza places all over the world. After a few seconds she found the listing for Levi's and Mike started dialing the phone.
Before he could finish dialing, the line went dead and the door burst open. Agent one was again in the room.
"Mr. Godwin! We just updated your phone book, but we caught you using an illegal foreign one. Can you explain yourself?"
"Your update removed the entry for our favorite restaurant. There must be some mistake!"
"Highly doubtful considering the source, but if you insist, you can file a formal complaint and work it out through the legal system."
"A lawsuit?!? That will take weeks if not years to complete - what do I do if I want pizza until then?"
"That's why we left Pizza Shack and Dice Pizza - they aren't infringing on anything so they are perfectly legal."
Mike was speechless, the agent continued. "And there's the small matter of the circumvention clause of the law."
Mike saw the agents gaze move to his daughter, and at the same time the two other agents grabbed her arms and restrained her.
"We've been keeping an eye on you and your friends at school. Our counterparts in Romania have been watching your friends grandmother - she's claiming her innocence, but thankfully the ACTA treaty has allowed them to use our evidence in her trial. I suppose you're one of those Free Software protesters as well, eh?"
And with that, the two agents pulled the young girl out the door to their awaiting van.
"I'm sorry for the interruption Mr. Godwin. She'll be processed at the federal courthouse since this is a federal offense, but you can visit her some time tomorrow after she's been processed in. I'd suggest hiring a lawyer. The approved lawyers are still listed in the phone book."