The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), two controversial privacy acts that were up for a vote in the House and the Senate respectively, have caused a huge uproar, an internet blackout by more than 115,000 websites, an outpour of comments and discussions on social media and more than 3 million e-mails to Congress, urging lawmakers to change their vote.
The bills were designed to stop online copyright infringements by cracking down on websites that offer copyrighted material abroad and block Google search from displaying them. For now, it seems, the two attempts to stifle internet piracy by censoring website abroad, has been put on hold with many representatives switching sides. The proposed bills have not been, however, outright cancelled.
I understand the need to protect copyrights. As a writer and “content provider,” I’ve had my fair share of articles and quotes “stolen” reused, quoted out of context and copied by others. That said, I still don’t want the government imposing censorship, and it doesn’t matter if the censored sites are located abroad or within the United States. Once we start policing the web, we go down a slippery path.
For more background info, read Wikipedia’s entry on the Stop SOPA/PIPA Initiative and excerpts of a primer on the bills via ReadWriteWeb:
“The Internet is in an uproar over the Stop Online Piracy Act. The battle lines are drawn. Big Media (the record labels, movie studios and TV networks) support the bill while Big Tech (search engines, open source platforms, social networks) oppose it. The bill, introduced to Congress by Representative Lamar Smith, is ostensibly supposed to give the Attorney General the ability to eliminate Internet piracy and to “protect U.S. customers and prevent U.S. support of infringing sites.
There is a lot that may be wrong with SOPA, but putting the power to censor the Internet into the hands of the government is chief among citizens’ concerns. The law would force Internet Service Providers and search engines to cut off access to infringing sites as well as give the government the ability to stop payment to those sites.”
Below is a recap of the events. Combing the web in the past weeks, I have gathered links to the best articles that I could find on the topic. Keep this as a reference tool, because it is not over yet. And make sure to sign this petition by americancensorship.org, who states on its website that more than 24 million internet users have had their voices heard in a “collective flexing of internet muscles”. Be one of them. Because backers of both acts are “still working on backroom deals” to get similar bills passed.
- Talking Points Memo: How The Web Killed SOPA and PIPA
- Mashable: SOPA Is Dead
- NYTimes: Public Outcry Over Antipiracy Bills Began as Grass-Roots Grumbling
- Business Insider: The Largest Online Protest In History Started Here
- Washington Post: Department of Justice site hacked after Megaupload shutdown, Anonymous claims credit
- Newser: SOPA Protest Hails Web’s ‘Coming of Age’
- ReadWriteWeb: With Today’s Protests, SOPA Becomes a Mainstream Issue
- Infographics: Visualizing SOPA on Twitter
- Podcast: Columbia J-School on SOPA
- Video: The Browser “Protect IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet”
- SOPA Blackout Screenshots Including Google, Reddit, Wikipedia
- WebInkNow: Stop SOPA Silliness
- PBS Newshour segment on SOPA and PIPA
- VIDEO TED TALK: Clay Shirky “Why SOPA is a bad idea”