How often do you travel around the internet and find something has been removed due to ‘Copyright’ law?
Not too often I would hope. Most of the time it’s Youtube videos using music that they don’t have the rights to, correct? But what if this all worked differently? What if next time a video had music it didn’t own the rights to, it didn’t just get taken down, what if the whole website was taken down? Welcome to the danger that is the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ or SOPA.
I’m sure that by this point you would be aware of SOPA or at least have heard/seen it around the internet. It’s currently got the internet at a crossroad and the future of just about every website hangs in the balance of whether or not this bill is to pass in the coming weeks. Big companies, websites and countless people are against the act but places like Hollywood support this bill.
The question is, what is SOPA?
SOPA is one of two bills currently being worked through the Americana state congress. The other is the ‘Protect-IP Act’ both however create issues for the web. The idea behind these bills is to allow better control over copyrighted material and enforce harsher punishments on websites that don’t stop copyright being broken. Youtube I’m looking at you.
How does it work?
In a short and simple way, it’s like an internet death penalty. With a court’s backing the US attorney general could force a website to prevent access to their site within five days. The choice as to which sites should go down also falls into the hands of the copyright holder. This is why Hollywood is backing the act, as it means they can sue just about everyone. To break it down further, the same method of website blocking is used in China, Iran and Syria.
Why is it bad?
SOPA allows the US government to create a ‘blacklist’ of sites which are to be blocked, banned or otherwise closed due to failure to stop piracy. Key sites would include any torrent website, YouTube, DeviantArt and even Facebook. The real issue is that it wouldn’t just affect the US as many websites hosted in the states fall under the effect of this bill. Once a website is blocked over there, it’s good bye to it over here as well which is bad news. Add to that the fact the bill allows for websites to be removed from search engines and cut off ad revenue. The list goes on and on but as you can see, it’s rather bad.
How can we stop it?
There isn’t a direct way to stop SOPA, it’s being voted for on the 24th of this month and many are against it. However, there is always a small likelihood it could still go through. To help show congress that SOPA is bad, many people are going on strike and we are too.
On Wednesday 18th of this month, the internet will go into blackout to strike against SOPA. During this day many websites will turn off many if not all of their features to show congress what an effect the bill would have on the world’s internet. Big names such as Reddit, Mozilla, Destructoid, Minecraft and many others will be taking part. Yatta will be as well as we won’t be using any online service all day and turning off the blog. Not only that but a petition is being signed and will be sent to congress before they vote.
SOPA may seem like a silly bill that congress want to put forward but the dark truth is that it would ruin the internet you have come to use and love almost every day. You could say good bye to many websites and to the freedom of speech which currently lives on the internet. Also for those to whom it matters, Wikipedia and 4Chan would be the first to be blocked. Think about it.
To show you’re against SOPA sign the petition and add your website to the blackout. This is our internet and together we must make a stand.
For more information check out the following links….
SOPA wiki page
Words: Nikholai Koolonavich
All images and videos used under fair use and belong to their rightful owners.