SOPA—no I’m not talking about the Mexican food dish, or a new brand of soap. I’m talking about the Stop Online Piracy Act, or the act also known as H.R. 3261, that has been buzzing around in the news and on popular websites lately.
SOPA is actually a bill that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on October 26, 2011 that would expand the ability of the U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectually property and counterfeit goods. It’s built off the PRO-IP Act of 2008 and its recent reentry as Protect-IP. It has since changed its name to SOPA and, for the most part, the whole thing will put a lot of people using the internet in jail.
Why and how you ask?
People in favor of this bill say that they only want to protect the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, but the internet censorship will just end up infringing on your First Amendment rights, cripple the Internet, and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech like this blog that you’re reading right now. So you can see why at least I’m concerned.
The thing is you should be concerned too.
Do you like Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, or Twitter? Well you can’t access these sites under SOPA. Blogs that link back to another page other than their own could get shut down without a warning, and singing to some music in the background of your YouTube video or, obviously downloading music, would get you locked up for a few years.
The internet as we know it would resemble the same restrictions of those other countries where world news and important information never reach the citizens. The land of the free would start looking a lot like North Korea as far as the internet goes and Facebook could go the Cuban route.
Forget about having free speech. Under SOPA free speech has you in jail because of the many restrictions placed by a company or individual who feel they’ve been wronged. Other countries that don’t really look too kindly upon free speech use the same restrictions proposed in SOPA. The crazy thing is that its supporters are also willing to throw away their same freedoms without really considering how this would affect the internet.
So far the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing about SOPA on November 16 and December 15, 2011. They are scheduled to continue debate when Congress returns from its winter recess in 2012. In the meantime those opposing the bill are rallying together to get fellow internet users to contact their representative and voice their concerns about SOPA, or if you don’t know what to say click here or here, so you can also find out more information.
Below is a video that explains the impact of SOPA. If you’re not digging the proposed act I would recommend clicking those links and sending this post, or the sites that I linked, to your friends. And if you don’t have friends, then I’m sorry. That just sucks.