The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a bill being debated in the United States House of Representatives. It has a companion bill in the Senate known ridiculously as the PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) or PIPA. In either form, if passed, websites that illegally host copyrighted material, knowingly or unknowingly, would be blocked from search engines and ultimately shut down.
These bills are particularly egregious because they would practically allow the content producers - big Hollywood studios – to act as judge and jury with the ability – via the Justice Department – to shut down sites. This legislation is causing a battle to break out between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Many technology companies like Google, Facebook and eBay are against the legislation, arguing that while they agree content needs to be protected this legislation is too far-reaching and not the right approach. Hollywood companies on the other hand say years of battling piracy makes this legislation necessary and long overdue.
One of the arguments made by those supporting SOPA and PIPA is that piracy hurts the economy. For this claim to be true it requires proof that those participating in copyright infringement would buy the content if given no other option. It’s not clear to me that this would be the case.
Tomorrow, Wednesday January 18, 2012, several websites that are against SOPA will go offline in protest, including Wikipedia and Reddit. Google won’t go offline but they plan to post an anti-SOPA link on their homepage.
End Piracy, Not Liberty – Google
LEFT CALL POLL