SOPA Vehemently Criticized


SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) has caused quite a stir of late in the United States , and has been criticized severely the world over too. A key Congressional committee will discuss it further on January 18th.

Why SOPA Is A No Go

The proposed act is to be considered by the House Judiciary Committee which aims to clamp down on all forms of copyright privacy, safeguard the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, in short it is on the verge of imposing draconian measures. Basically it could be used as a tool by the United States government to limit the independence and freedom of the Internet.

Some of its measures are restrictions on payment processors and domain seizures, as well as clauses that hold Internet Service Providers, social networks, online advertising networks responsible. It goes as far as permitting cetain organizations to prohibit search engines from linking directly to websites found to be distributing pirated goods.

Companies Across The World Oppose It

Many prominent internet companies across the world opposes the act, of which is Major League Gaming (MLG), it will black out between 8 am and 8 pm Eastern Time when the committee meets, and showcase messages that will point out the dangers the bill poses. This company goes one step further it removed approximately 100 of its domains from domain registrar GoDaddy, who supports the act.

Other companies that joined the protest are Reddit, gaming giant Destructoid, and the entire 50-site network of Cheezburger.

To date companies like Google, Yahoo and AOL have showed no interest, while James Wales Wikipedia founder joined the protest without the blink of an eye. Wordpress (WP) strongly condemned SOPA using a plug-in asking users to join the cause.

The act has also been cristized by political opposition the likes of Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann and Nancy Pelosi. Rebecca MacKinnon, journalist and one of the founders of Global Voices Online, said that if SOPA would be implemented it would be equivalent to the Chinese censorship of the Web, although the Chinese have different reasons for doing so.

Many Internet users feel that “SOPA is the politicians’ way of getting what they want. Should it be enforced no one knows exactly where it will end and where these new and terrible powers will lead us?”

Three White House officials, who are advisers to the U.S president said they feel that SOPA and other bills would impact negatively on Internet businesses and make it prone to litigation and freedom of speech.

“Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small.

One of them, White House cyber-security chief Howard Schmidt, said that the administration is eager and ready to work with lawmakers on a “narrower, more targeted approach to online piracy,” effectively ensuring that legitimate businesses will not be harmed.

On the flip side of the coin, the bill’s author Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, summed it up like this: “It is not censorship to enforce the law against foreign thieves,” estimating that intellectual-property industries provide 19 million high-paying U.S. jobs and are responsible for more than 60 percent of American exports.

“Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while some of America’s most profitable and productive industries are under attack,” he hit back.

He is supported by the Recording Industry Association of America, which stated that, as the world’s top exporter of creative works, the U.S must not allow Internet companies “to direct law-abiding consumers to unlawful and dangerous sites.”

Voicing his opinion on the measure, Sherwin Siy, who is the legal representative for the consumer rights group Public Knowledge, said that lawmakers should put existing bills into the back burner and must commence working on a new “consensus bill” in a respond  to White House concerns.

He concluded: “The messages being sent by the public in opposition to this bill are finally getting through to Washington.”



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