Stop Online Piracy Act needs to be modified
“Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge,” a note on the English Wikipedia page begins, “For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”
On the page, Wikipedia offers the option to contact representatives and links to a page for interested parties to learn more about the hugely controversial Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP (intellectual property) Act.
On GovTrack, a site to help the public research and track the activities of the U.S. Congress, SOPA’s description states, “To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes. The bill—introduced on Oct. 26, 2011—was sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX21).
Georgia’s own U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is the co-sponsor of PIPA. On his website, it is defined as a bill that targets websites registered outside of the United States that are “dedicated to infringing activities.” The website goes on to say the bill is “specifically aimed at foreign criminals who steal American goods and content, sap the economy and are dangerous to consumers.”
Isakson’s site says YouTube and Facebook will get “safe harbor protection” from the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
We at The Colonnade believe the premise behind this bill is valid. We are writers and photographers, so we are all about copyright protection, but when all sites on the Internet are subject to regulation by the government, who knows what else they will be censoring.
The freedom of the Internet is something we have grown up expecting in America and we do not want that to change now because of this bill. We want harsher laws to be made for copyright law, but we do not think this bill is the way to make those laws a reality.
According to an article by The Huffington Post, web experts say this bill could “threaten the functionality of the Internet.”
The sites that were blacked out on Jan. 18, reddit, Mozilla Firefox, etc., have given us an idea of what the Internet could be like if this bill were to pass.
Though Wikipedia is not the most trusted source for information, many students still rely on it for information they need in a hurry. If this site, and sites like it, are modified, they will have to look elsewhere.
The Motion Picture Association of America is one of the bill’s biggest proponents. No surprise there. If this bill were to pass, the MPAA stands to gain quite a bit in the future. No longer will movies be available for illegal download without retribution, and the industry will stop losing billions of dollars every year due to piracy.
The Colonnade believes this should happen. Nobody should be able to steal something from the Internet; but, we also think more discussion with web experts and constituents and modifications need to happen before this bill is seriously considered in Washington.