Why You Should Say No to SOPA and PIPA
If you’ve browsed the Internet today, you know that a handful of websites, including Wikipedia, TwitPic and WordPress, have blacked out in protest of the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA).
Other websites, such as Google, are joining in the protest by displaying propaganda against the controversial acts.
But just what makes these acts so controversial that big web players are willing to cut their losses and shut down for an entire day?
- Allow the U.S. government to censor not only U.S.-originated websites, but foreign websites as well,
- Give copyright holders the right to sue website owners if the website in question makes it possible to post copyright-infringing content,
- And (this is probably the silliest of all) make it a felony to post a copyrighted song or video online.
At first glance, many might see SOPA as a great way to hold citizens accountable for their questionable actions, such as illegally downloading music or videos. In fact, many organizations support the legislation because it could stop the illegal copying of music and movies and lessen the threat on their businesses. (But one of these organizations is the AFL-CIO, so you know this ain’t pretty.)
However, SOPA goes way beyond punishing Internet users who would rather not pay $0.99 on iTunes for their new favorite song.
SOPA and PIPA are the next steps for a government that has failed to understand that regulation is not the key to solving all the world’s problems. These acts take our country closer to stripping us of our personal freedoms and creating a nation where we won’t even be able to voice our opinions on our own government on the Internet, like in South Korea.
By allowing copyright holders to sue website owners or operators who make it possible to post content that may break copyright, websites like YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia and Gmail could be blocked across the country in a matter of days. Because you have the ability to post a picture that might be protected by a copyright on your Facebook wall, Facebook would be subject to being blocked even before you post the offending photo. The same thing goes for Gmail or Yahoo for making it possible to email song lyrics or a line from your favorite novel to your friend, Gmail could also be blocked just for allowing people the ability to send such things.
It sounds silly now, doesn’t it?
Now, take a moment to enjoy the music stylings of 8-year old Sophia Grace.
If SOPA passes, little Sophia Grace could be sued by the copyright holder of her favorite song and become a convicted felon. SOPA makes performing a copyrighted song, with such a performance having a retail value of more than $2,500 (translation: 2,500 YouTube views of a song that could be purchased for $1), a criminal offense, even if you didn’t receive any money for the performance.
SOPA is such a brainless piece of legislation that people have come together regardless of political affiliation to say just how much they don’t want this to pass.
The Senate will begin voting on January 24.