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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOPA/Protect IP

For those of you that don't know Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT Intelectual Property Act (PIPA) are bills currently being proposed that will give the U.S. law enforcement agencies and copyright holders the power to fight copyright infringement and counterfeit goods.

Sounds great, right? It doesn't end there though.

SOPA and PIPA will give law enforcement agencies and copyright holders to shut down or fine any site that allows copyrighted material to be posted on the sites without permission of the copyright holder. What does this mean exactly? You post a picture to Facebook that contains an image in the background that is copyrighted. Law enforcement agencies and the copyright holder now have the ability to fine both you and Facebook for posting that image.

Have you ever watched a clip from a movie on Youtube? SOPA and PIPA will force Youtube to remove ALL copyrighted videos or else they will fine them, and the user, for each video containing copyright infringement.

Now remember, this isn't just for explicit copyright infringement. It also is for music playing in the background of a video, images on walls or clothing. In order to post anything online it will have to be 100% clean of any and all copyrighted material.

Then if there happens to be a song playing faintly in the background the video will be forced down. No matter what the message is.

This has been a year revolutions through Social Media. While it is impossible and impractical to say that social media caused these revolutions it is also impossible to say that they did not provide fuel for these revolutions. In Egypt the government blocked Twitter and Facebook in order to prevent the revolutions from spreading. They wanted to keep people from saying, as Facebook's status question asks, "What's on [their] mind?"

In many ways SOPA and PIPA give government agencies and copyright holders the power to do the same thing. In fact, this may be here-say, but I read somewhere that the US legislature has even looked into copying China's Internet control program. Like I said, here-say, and probably complete propaganda, but still frightening to think about.

It would however, strike against free speech, expression, and many other of the basic rights given to us by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

I agree that piracy is a problem. Measures need to be taken to stop illegal downloads and streaming of copyrighted material. However, SOPA and PIPA take the solution too far by allowing both the government and private companies to restrict freedom of speech in order to protect their own products.

I urge you all to study this issue out. Let me know where you stand. More importantly let your local congressperson know where you stand. They need your help in doing the right thing. It's up to you.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.