Tag Archives: Forbes.com

SOPA and PIPA: What’s in it for you?

20 Jan
Having trouble accessing your favorite sites lately? Have you noticed those black ribbons and sites with total blackout stamps and posts that say “Imagine a world without free knowledge.”? Well, this is a protest against a popular bill of US Congress called SOPA ( Stop Online Piracy Act ) and PIPA ( Protect Intellectual Property Act ) which is the parallel bill being considered by the Senate. Detailed information about SOPA and PIPA can be found on Wikipedia.

What are SOPA and PIPA and what’s in it for you?

From its definition itself, it is built to demolish piracy. Both legislation would allow the US Justice Department and content owners to seek court orders requiring search engines to block results associated with piracy. Also, advertisers and ISPs would be forbidden from doing business with infringers that are based outside the US. This would be a good indication to those content providers like movie makers, artists, etc. however at some point this would also bring down those online companies that rely heavily on customers posting online.

According to BBC News, the bills propose that anyone found guilty of streaming copyrighted content without permission 10 or more times within six months should face up to five years in jail. The US government and rights holders would have the right to seek court orders against any site accused of “enabling or facilitating” piracy. This could theoretically involve an entire website being shut down because it contains a link to a suspect site. US-based internet service providers, payment processors and advertisers would be outlawed from doing business with alleged copyright infringers. Sopa also calls for search engines to remove infringing sites from their results – Pipa does not include this provision.”

Global protest

Opponents warned that once this bill has passed into law, this could later on cripple the internet worldwide and may soon shutdown all domains that violates their proposed law. On an exaggerated perspective, as if this is what happened on Kurt Russell’s 1996 movie Escape from L.A, wherein, all means of technology worldwide are shut down by the satellites within seconds. Incidentally, this information came from Wikipedia which is one of the internet companies that initiate the coordinated service blackout to protest SOPA and PIPA along with other companies such as search giant Google, user-generated news site Reddit, comedy website network Cheezburger, AOL, and other large internet companies.

Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley

Based from Forbes.com, these bills have pitted the entertainment industry against the technology industry. “Hollywood” has a legitimate interest in protecting its intellectual property. Not only are profits at stake but so are jobs. Thousands of Americans make their living by dreaming up content and selling it to the world and piracy does in fact take money out of their pockets.  Silicon Valley has invested billions in creating companies that freely distribute information. While Google and every other Silicon Valley company must respect copyrights, they thrive on helping people find what they want. If, suddenly, every web site that had links to other sites had to worry that they could be in violation of the law by linking to a “banned” site, it could put undo pressure on these companies. There is also worry that SOPA and PIPA could be abused and lead to censorship for purposes other than intellectual property protection.

It must be killed.

According to Wikipedia, On October 28, 2011, the EFF called the bill a “massive piece of job-killing Internet regulation,” and said, “This bill cannot be fixed; it must be killed.” Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, spoke out strongly against the bill, stating, “The bill attempts a radical restructuring of the laws governing the Internet,” and that “It would undo the legal safe harbors that have allowed a world-leading Internet industry to flourish over the last decade. It would expose legitimate American businesses and innovators to broad and open-ended liability. The result will be more lawsuits, decreased venture capital investment, and fewer new jobs.”

You should be aware. Be an advocate of change.

The danger of not being well-informed is like going to a war without bringing any rifle with you. It only takes a couple of minutes to read important news like this one. The next thing you know it, you might no longer access those areas that you regularly visit. So make it a point to read and take the lead, be an advocate of change and tell the whole world what’s your point of view.