Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

01/17/2012

Is SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) Good or Bad ?


Stop Online Piracy Or Not ? At What Cost ?

Truthfully … I’m confused and conflicted on this issue.

For a little background, this pro and con scenario is provided from Wikipedia:

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261, is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar S. Smith (RTX) and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors. The bill, if made law, would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.[2] Presented to the House Judiciary Committee, it builds on the similar PRO-IP Act of 2008 and the corresponding Senate bill, the PROTECT IP Act.[3]

The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who makes the request, the court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten such infringements within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.[4]

Proponents of the bill say it protects the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws, especially against foreign websites.[5] They cite examples such as Google’s $500 million settlement with the Department of Justice for its role in a scheme to target U.S. consumers with ads to illegally import prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies.[6]

Opponents say that it violates the First Amendment,[7] is Internet censorship,[8] will cripple the Internet,[9] and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech actions.[7][10] Opponents have initiated a number of protest actions, including petition drives, boycotts of companies that support the legislation, and planned service blackouts by English Wikipedia and major Internet companies scheduled to coincide with the next Congressional hearing on the matter.

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on November 16 and December 15, 2011. The Committee was scheduled to continue debate in January 2012,[11] but on January 17 Chairman Smith said that “[d]ue to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.”[12]

What do you think? Is striving for a more truthful Net going to result in censorship and restrictive business practices? Is censoring known untruths censorship at all?

Why can’t we provide an internet that respects copyrighted work and at the same time clears the way for easier and more fair business partnerships, etc.? 

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8 Comments »

  1. I freely admit that the need for such protections are real. Yet at the same time I have to question the solution.
    What we have here smells far to much like a politically correct solution to a situation that does not address the cure so much as gives increasing tools to criminalize the innocent. So I must suggest that; “The games afoot and someone has some very smelly feet.”

    Comment by Lez Lewis — 01/17/2012 @ 9:11 pm | Reply

  2. “Why can’t we provide an internet that respects copyrighted work and at the same time clears the way for easier and more fair business partnerships, etc.?”

    Exactly. Well put.

    Comment by Dennis Byrne — 01/17/2012 @ 9:55 pm | Reply

  3. I’m with you, John — why can’t we just protect intellectual property and still protect businesses? It seems to me that this is the way it has been set up but people keep breaking the rules anyway. They can’t do ANYTHING about the foreign websites because they are not under our jurisdiction! They need to get serious! Then you have the ones that cry wolf every time someone upsets their apple cart.

    Will it cripple the Internet? You bet! What blogger was it that just got sued for $2 mil because she spoke her negative opinion about some attorney? I found it — here it is: http://www.law.com/jsp/lawtechnologynews/PubArticleLTN.jsp?id=1202534942743&slreturn=1rerHere

    Because she had an opinion she was sued and the judge found her guilty because she was not an official journalist — so she was not protected by the same rights. WTF??? Talk about a way to slap down people and their opinions! This is the fear.

    I’m quite animated about it — don’t try to tell me what I can and can’t say on my own damn blog, or anywhere else for that matter. As Americans, that is so wrong! We cannot let anyone try to censor us! If you get the Federal Gov’t. involved it will only get worse and the courts will be tied up with a lot of nonsense and sue-happy freaks for years on end! Out of fear nobody will want to blog anymore and the blogs that remain, well, nobody will want to read them.

    Controversy is what we all love to read! There is always someone on the receiving end of some not-so-nice rhetoric. So be it! Get mad! Spew your anger. Get over it. Feel better afterwards! 🙂 If you can’t take the heat, get outta the kitchen! (That phrase is not my own intellectual property. Should I be worried?)

    That is the beauty of the Internet — we can say what we really feel! At least that’s how it used to be. If they re-write it to protect bloggers and and other U.S. citizens so that we can speak our minds freely, maybe I’ll look at it again. Right now it’s too general and it takes away my right to vent against people with too much arrogance and power who need to be brought down a peg or two!

    I am the first one to want to protect intellectual property! But If I want to call an attorney or anybody else a dog, that’s my right. If you want to call me a bitch, that’s your right. They need to fix this legislation so it doesn’t prevent us from voicing our opinion. Our friends and relatives died to give us those rights!

    Do the big boys tick me off sometimes? Sure they do. Google downgraded my blog a few years back because I did something they didn’t like. I was furious but there was nothing I could do. I still use their search engine, I still use the word Google as a verb (Google it!), and deep down I still love them. They may not like me very much but, hey, such is life.

    Napster never stopped me from buying a CD — you want quality, you pay for it. They still went under because of the copyright thing. How long before Amazon is on the opposite end of some drama because they let people borrow used digital books?

    How long before bloggers get sued because they call their politicians bad names? Why hasn’t that Huffington woman been sued?

    I hear you, John, but I have to say NO CENSORSHIP! By the way, I worked hard at that title — “Bitch!” So, feel free! 🙂

    Comment by writesprite — 01/17/2012 @ 10:24 pm | Reply

    • And, Writesprite, I’m with you all the way! Loved your comment … For the passion, originality AND the bitchiness! 🙂

      Comment by gator1965 — 01/18/2012 @ 8:46 pm | Reply

  4. John posts some important questions. With the expansive (and expanding) sharing of information today, there is a fine line between sharing and plagiarism, as well as a fine line between protecting artists and censorship that infringes upon free speech.

    Copyright law is a good thing, especially for us freelancers out there like me who want to be recognized and paid for our work. But unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work for individuals or small businesses very well.

    When Thomas L. Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” was first published, it used a painting for the cover without the painter’s permission or knowledge. (You can read the article here: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2005/10/17/8358061/index.htm.) According to this article in 2005, legal proceedings were going nowhere and the painter still hadn’t received a dime, although the publisher did stop selling the book with that cover.

    Recently there have been many changes to the bills in an attempt to make them less controversial (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57360665-503544/sopa-pipa-what-you-need-to-know/). However, it is the giant media corporations lobbying for this and therefore the bills will most likely benefit them, while individuals and small businesses, and in many cases even the very artists that those same corporations represent, will not benefit from it and may even be hindered. Definitely an important topic that needs to be monitored.

    Comment by Andrea Kuhlman — 01/18/2012 @ 5:09 pm | Reply


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