All Articles Tagged "Stop Online Piracy Act"
By now you’ve probably noticed that there’s no Wikipedia today, and that Google has blacked out its logo, or that some of your favorite blog sites have faded to black. The effort is part of a protest of two bills before Congress, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, which would censor the Web and impose some stiff regulations on online businesses.
The purpose of the bill, which is backed by many in the music and film industries, is to stop online piracy which has been running rampant for several years now and some say is costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and millions, possibly even billions, of dollars in lost revenue. But opponents of the legislation who have turned their sites dark in a move of solidarity say the legislation infringes on freedom of speech and could even “break the Internet.”
According to the Washington Post, the bill would “enable copyright holders and the Justice Department to get court orders against sites that ‘engage in, enable, or facilitate’ copyright infringement. That could include, say, sites that host illegal mp3s or sites that link to such sites. Courts could bar advertisers and payment companies such as PayPal from doing business with the offending sites in question, order search engines to stop listing the accused infringers, or even require Internet service providers to block access entirely. The bills contain other provisions, too, like making it a felony to stream unauthorized content online.”
Although the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in 1998, requiring any site hosting or linking to pirated material to take it down once notified, sites aren’t required to actively police their sites, which copyright holders say isn’t enough. So, with this new law, “Rather than receiving a notification for copyright violations, sites now face immediate action — up to and including being taken down before they have a chance to respond.” As the Washington Post points out:
“Intermediary sites like YouTube and Flickr could lose their ‘safe harbor’ protections. Nonprofit or low-budget sites might not have the resources to defend themselves against costly lawsuits. And, meanwhile, larger companies like Google and Facebook could be forced to spend considerable time and money policing their millions of offerings each day for offending material.”
As far as the idea of breaking the Internet, sites in violation of the bill could be de-listed from the Domain Name System, meaning U.S. service providers would have to act as though the site didn’t exist at all. Users might then seek out foreign servers to host their material which brings a whole other issue of security into question.
Obviously, the entertainment industry has a right to want to protect its revenue streams, but do their rights come before those of all Americans? The way in which the bills seek to eliminate piracy could very well eliminate the business models Google and Reddit have built entire companies around, or even your everyday blogger who has created a business for herself by killing the very thing we admire most about the internet: information that is readily accessible and can be easily shared. It may be necessary for Congress to approach this issue from another angle.
The Senate is expected to vote on the issue Jan. 24, meanwhile Google is asking Americans to sign a petition to end piracy, not liberty.
What do you think about the PIPA and SOPA bills? Do you oppose or support the legislation? What do you think would be a better way for Congress to address Internet piracy?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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