The US government can posture and cow-tow to the film and music industries as much as they like they won't be shutting down the likes of YouTube any time soon. If they do there will be another shot heard around the world as sites like YouTube, for all its faults and frustrations, are seen by many to be the last bastions of free speech in the US.
Torrent sharing sites are perhaps a different matter but as fast as governments close them down they reappear on different servers in different countries. Look at WikiLeaks as an example of a site governments would love, and tried, to shutdown - all it did was proliferate on a global scale.
Prohibition didn't work in the US - internet prohibition isn't going to work any better - it will just create innovation and a lot of bureaucrats chasing shadows.
I would have liked to have thought that what @Carol Haynes
said above would be borne out in fact.
Reading this today gave me some hope: Web Titans Contemplate "Nuclear Option" Against SOPA
What seems even more astonishing to me is that effectively if one user breaks T&Cs and isn't caught rapidly (on platforms such as WordPress or Blogger) they could result in the collapse of the whole infrastructure for those platforms! Are we suddenly going to see such site content being moderated before you are allowed to post it - if so who will pay the moderators?
Yes it does seem astonishing, but perhaps it should not be. That prospect (being peremptorily shut down) could be a pretty strong incentive for the ISPs and domains to fiercely censor (let's be PC and call it "self-regulate") their own content. That daft idea recently of the Indian government's to get ISPs to censor their networks was just an example of a Fascist totalitarianism beginning to flex its muscles. Plenty more where that came from, and the US would seem to have it in spades.
Whatever the outcome, I still get the distinct impression that the SOPA proposals are at least further tangible evidence - if any further were needed - that American democracy, freedoms and liberties have been and are being gnawed away at an alarming rate by various agencies, including powerful corporate, capitalist, communist, Fascist, statist and religio-political ideological lobbies. The freedom of the individual would be largely irrelevant in this greater context.
Maybe western civilisation is steadily inching backwards in time towards a pre-Magna Carta
state of affairs, in Al Gore's "new world order" of World Government by highly-paid (by us taxpayers) unelected officials ("leaders"), and a loss of national sovereignty. It has already
happened in the EU. Who can predict the future? Western democracy is relatively young and fragile, and may already have had its day.