We’re counting down the top documentary news of 2011 on New Year’s Eve!

Congress caught the web off guard at the end of 2011 when it moved quickly to debate the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

The legislation, if passed, would give the Department of Justice the power to shut down websites or internet service providers that facilitate copyright violation. That includes a few sites you may have heard of, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and countless others

Proponents of the legislation (including the Motion Picture Association of America and major media conglomerates) say it will protect creative professionals, while opponents say the bill will erode free-speech rights, cripple now-and-future digital distributors and otherwise stifle creativity, assuming the law is enforceable.

Hollywood has a lobbying edge over Silicon Valley, and the bill could reach a vote in early 2012.

(The video above overlays a pro-SOPA video by Viacom with anti-SOPA commentary. Below is Stephen Colbert’s take.)

The 2011 Documentary Year in Review Countdown…

#12: Online payments
Ford Foundation Funds Webified Documentaries

#11: Off-camera confrontation
Michael Moore Sues the Weinsteins over ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ Accounting

#10: A film by you
‘Life In A Day,’ a Documentary Culled from 80,000 Filmmakers, Premieres Online

#9: Cameraless documentary
‘Senna’ Breaks U.K. Box-Office Records

#8: Mobile device legend
Cinéma Vérité Pioneer Richard “Ricky” Leacock Dies

#7: Good karma
‘My Reincarnation’ Breaks Records on Kickstarter

#6: Seeing is beliebing
3-D Documentaries Hit Theaters

#5: Risks become real
War Documentarian Tim Hetherington (‘Restrepo’) Killed in Action

#4: No flash in the pan
Popcorn.js Brings HTML5 and Interactivity to Documentaries

#3: Mystery man
What if Banksy Wins an Oscar?

#2: Web threats
The Stop Online Piracy Act Catches the Web Off Guard

#1: Freedom fighters
The West Memphis 3, Subjects of the ‘Paradise Lost’ Documentary Series, Are Set Free

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POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.