Can you imagine a world without Facebook? That’s what our world will be like if the SOPA and PIPA bills go through. SOPA is Stop Online Piracy Act. it is aimed at tackling online piracy, specifically of films and other forms of media – on foreign servers, this is being considered by the House of Representatives. PIPA or Protect Intellectual Property Act is the parallel bill that the senate is considering.
What does this mean for you? Today it means that you can’t access Wikipedia, or Reddit, or a large number of other websites who are protesting against these bills. In the long run if the bills go through it would mean a very different Internet.
Essentially the bills would be able to take down any website with links to copyrighted material – so if someone tweets a link to a pirated film on twitter, or uploads an illegal copy of a video on Facebook (even just a video of you with friends with a piece of music that belongs to someone else) those websites will be prosecuted. Eventually they will disappear.
How often have you watched a video on YouTube to see what a song is like? Or just to listen to it? I know I have done that a lot, if I like the song I then make a point of buying it. But most copies of songs on YouTube aren’t from the artist with the permission of the record company. Bye bye YouTube.
What will this bill do? Will it eventually result in an Internet where everything has to be pre-approved by the government? A country that refuses to sell cameras and other recording devices for fear of piracy? Or more likely a stop and search every time you go to the cinema?
The basic goal of stopping piracy is admirable. But perhaps companies should look at why people pirate media and then target that, along with those doing the pirating (I.e. uploading & downloading copyrighted material) directly instead of trying to filter the Internet. I know that if every DVD I bought came with a code to download the film legitimately online for all my devices (personal use) I wouldn’t have to technically break the law by ripping a copy – and I wouldn’t be sat there thinking “I could just download it in half the time it takes to do this…”
How exactly would SOPA affect students? It would end up giving the US the right to ban any foreign website, so that research page written by someone in Russia? How about the study being done in Africa right now? Sadly, as great as the idea behind these bills are, what has been written would eventually end up with a dictatorship of the internet.
What do you think of SOPA and PIPA? How would they affect you?