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Understanding SOPA & PIPA.
You may have heard the term SOPA & PIPA being thrown around lately, I wanted to give a brief overview of what it is and how it will affect us. Firstly they are two bills that are trying to be passed in the United States.
Q. What is the purpose of the two bills?
A: The Stop Online Piracy Act, known as SOPA and sister legislation called the Protect IP [Intellectual Property] Act, or PIPA.. Both are designed to tackle the problem of foreign-based websites that sell pirated movies, music and other products.
Currently U.S law can shutdown U.S.-based websites that offer pirated content, but they can’t directly do the same to foreign sites like Pirate Bay
Q. So how will they stop it?
A: The bills will provide new powers to the U.S by being able to do the following: Block access to the sites to U.S users – How? By disabling links from search engines and making the simple URL unavailable.
Q. So whats the big deal then?
A: Opponents of the legislation worry that the language in bill is so broad that it would allow content owners (Musicians etc) to target U.S. websites that aren’t knowingly hosting pirated content. This has been a particular concern of bill opponents Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube and Twitter, all of which have sites that depend heavily on content uploaded by users.
There is one other major problem, no due process in the procedure to shut a site down. They could allege that your personal blog violates intellectual properties and shut it down without going to court, without a trial or lawyers… nothing.
Say you go to a local Karaoke bar. Your best friend, boy/girlfriend gets up and sings their heart out, or falls on their face. Either way, it is hilarious and awesome. You videotape said friend/significant other and upload that video to your personal blog or YouTube.
A few days, or even hours, later; your video is removed, and you have an e-mail, or letter in your inbox saying that Warner Music, or Sony/BMG, is about to sue you for everything you own because you infringed on their material. (Also up to 5 years in jail)
And all you wanted to do was get a laugh.
This is where the main concern for the bill lies, with users having their freedom of speech infringed upon, by preventing creativity and uploading content to the web for entertainment.
Last week the Internet decided to to show its great displeasure towards SOPA and PIPA. Sites like Wikipedia, WordPress, Reddit, BoingBoing, Imagur and Craigslist all shut down their sites for 12 hours to show the world what a SOPA/PIPA would do to the Internet. Both bills have since failed to make it through the House and Senate, so the internet is safe…… for now.
For more information on the issue check out the following video:
Also thanks to http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203735304577167261853938938.html & http://www.crashmasters.com/sopa-and-pipa-what-you-need-to-know/ for the inspiration for this Blog.
Image credit Ben Werdmuller on Flickr