Piracy, Freedom of Speech and the SOPA-PIPA Act
PIPA and SOPA Co-Sponsors Abandon Bill (from Mashable)
Want more info? Check out this Infographic on SOPA/PIPA from Google.
Wikipedia, the sixth most-visited site in the world, plans to protest SOPA by deciding to blackout its website on Wed. More at WSJ.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a controversial bill recently introduced (October 2011) in the US Congress that potentially threatens to shut down websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.
Corporate supporters of SOPA and PIPA (Pro-IP Act) want to take down any site that hinders their profits. For example, under this act Craigslist could be deemed a marketplace for second-hand goods and deemed in violation of this act because it hurts sales of new goods to consumers. Would I be held liable for selling that old Sony TV on Craigslist? What about eBay, Amazon Marketplace, Google? Under PIPA, Google could be held accountable for illegally aiding and abetting in the process of making copyrighted material available online.
The repurcussions are widespread. Enforcing the act means that a court order could bar online advertising networks and payment companies from doing business with the alleged website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring ISPs to block access to such sites.
I agree with the premise of both the SOPA and PIPA but am concerned with the Congress providing carte-blance authority to companies under this act. I am 100% in agreement of the “idea” of protecting a company’s IP and it’s copyrights. My concern here, however, is with agreeing to and arriving at a definition of what gets classified under “piracy” and “infringement”. Too narrow a definition will be business as usual while too broad a definition will include may innocent victims (e.g. Craigslist).
I encourage you to educate yourself more on SOPA. The implications also extend beyond our borders and make all content subject to a country’s definition and interpretation of socio-economic factors, cultural and political views, religious laws, etc. Let’s be careful before we open this can of worms.