Remain Vigilant of SOPA and PIPA Efforts

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On January 18th, 2012, Wikipedia launched a 24-hour campaign which blocked access to all of their nearly 4 million English-language web-pages. Once on the homepage, the user would get a message saying “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge” Wikipedia was staging a massive protest of the following two bills.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP act (PIPA) are a proposed laws whose purpose it is to fight widespread theft of intellectual property and the peddling of counterfeit material through the Internet. Part of the proposed bill would stop search engines from linking to domestic and foreign sites that promote piracy. It would also force Internet providers to block access to such sites. Violating this law could carry a penalty of up to 5 years in federal prison.
Unlike now, where content holders must contact a website to begin the process of removing any pirated material, SOPA and PIPA are instead set up to force any online URL to police themselves and to be actively responsible for pirated content, links to illegal websites, etc.
For a massive technology companies like Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube, this could present a major problem, as they would have to spend a good amount of time, effort, and resources to constantly monitor all activity which might possibly be seen as illegal. Forcing Internet companies to spend their money in this way could lead to a loss of quality of services. Worse, if these sites fail to comply with the law, the government has the possible power to shut down the site.
41 human rights organizations and 110 law professors “have expressed grave concerns about the bills”, according to Google, who is opposing the two bills. I feel that if we allow these bills to pass, we won’t just lose a couple free songs or some reruns of our favorite shows; we may see some of our favorite websites shut down or changed for the worse. We all watch YouTube, where large media groups have always put pressure on the video site to remove content they believe is copyrighted. What do you think will happen to it if these bills pass?
Many people thought the January 18th online campaign to kill these bills was entirely a success, but all it did was halt the progress of this legislation. As of the end of January the bills are still in committee and still have backing from a number of congressman and senators. If our efforts to thwart these bills only stopped at the online protests of 2 weeks ago, we may see this bills pass right before our very eyes.

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