For an ordinary internet user the term SOPA means nothing. But for the internet fraternity and business giants that thrive on the internet use, it is nothing less than a nightmare.
SOPA that stands for Stop Online Piracy Act basically deals with copyright infringement and piracy. To curb the rising incidents of online trafficking, piracy and copyright infringement the US government passed this bill on November 26, 2011.
This bill is slowly witnessing vociferous protests from the tech world with giants like Wikipedia, Google, Facebook among others uniting to fight against it.
The bill as per the US government is aimed at protecting the privileges of all copyright holders. The provision also grants the permission to the copyright holder to drag any website, which facilitates copyrighting, to court.
In simple terms it is a nightmare that popular search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing might have to endure. If legislated, SOPA will restrict the performance of these search engines as they would not be allowed to link themselves to such sites and worst of all feature these sites on their search list.
SOPA and its counterpart PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) have received worldwide criticism although many are in favor of the two bills. From eminent techies to Hollywood celebrities many have come forward in the open against these bills.
As a means of peaceful dissent, Wikipedia, Reddit and many other popular websites temporarily went dark for as long as 24 hours. Speaking to a news agency Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said, “Within our community we’re very strong defenders of copyright. … The other side will try to paint this as anybody who’s opposed to this must be making money off of piracy or be in favor of piracy. That isn’t true. The issue here is that this law is very badly written, very broadly overreaching.”
Celebs like Ashton Kutcher, Kim Kardashian and Kevin Smith choose Twitter to spread awareness for anti-SOPA/PIPA bill. Kutcher tweeted, “Please don’t ignore what’s happening here. IMPORTANT MOMENT IN HISTORY! #StopSOPA,” Kardashian wrote, “We must stop SOPA/PIPA to keep the web open & free,” and Smith said, “Tell Congress: Don’t censor the web!”
News reports claim until yesterday Congress had 80 supporters in favor of the oppressive SOPA-PIPA legislation, but the support seems to have fallen to 63, with 17 members backing off in the wake of growing protests.
Highlights of SOPA/PIPA:
- Bills propose to curb piracy of movies and other content by “rogue” websites.
- Permits government to shut websites that use copyrighted materials and sell counterfeit goods.
- Those who oppose the bills complained that the bills could easily be abused.
Within hours of the websites going dark in protest, the rally against this anti-piracy legislation spread quickly with protestors taking out rallies on the roads. Lawmakers in the US were flooded with calls and queries. While many believe that these bills are a move to curtail an individual’s right to freedom of speech a particular section believes it to be the correct step towards checking the free flow of indecent and incorrect information online.
There however, is a fragment of the society which believes that these bills won’t make much difference to restrain piracy as there is every possibility that pirates will find another way out to continue with their notorious activities.
SOPA is believed to be draconian and backward in nature. It is said to violate civil liberties of internet users and companies by so called protection of intellectual property by US lawmakers that, if implemented, will certainly hurt business of many internet companies.