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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10/05/2011

Copyright Wars and the Public Domain – A Little History


Copyright - Will It Destroy Hollywood?

Back in 1998 and 1994, congress passed two controversial laws that many feel adversely affected copyright protection and the much relied upon ‘public domain’.

To this day many professionals still debate the pros and cons of these two laws.

A little history and current thinking is provided by Peter Decherney, an associate professor of film studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of the forthcoming book “Hollywood’s Copyright Wars”, in this article from The New York Times:

Will Copyright Stifle Hollywood?

IN 1998, in a controversial piece of legislation, Congress extended the length of copyright protection in the United States by 20 years, freezing the entrance of works into the public domain. Four years earlier, however, Congress took a less well-known but even more drastic step: it shrank the public domain. With the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act, Congress restored the copyrights of many foreign works that previously had been freely available.

Among the potentially millions of creations that lost their public-domain status were Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” Picasso’s “Guernica,” the British films of Alfred Hitchcock, Astrid Lindgren’s earliest Pippi Longstocking books, stories by H. G. Wells, the drawings of M. C. Escher, Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis,” Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” and Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will.” Artists and others now have to rely on the permission of copyright holders to make use of such works.

In my own field — film — the effects of the 1994 law have been palpable. Distributors of classic foreign films have seen their catalogs diminished. Students can no longer get copies of many films. Archivists have postponed the preservation of important films. And of course filmmakers have lost access to works of literature that they might have adapted and music that might have enhanced soundtracks.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments today in Golan v. Holder, a case challenging the copyright provision of the 1994 act. There are many reasons the justices should conclude that Congress went too far in altering the copyright system.

 

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