SOPA, PIPA threaten free expression

Many websites went on strike in opposition to the proposed House of Representatives bill 3261 Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate bill 968 Protect Intellectual Property Act last Wednesday.

The purpose of PIPA is to block foreign and domestic piracy websites from breaking copyright laws within the U.S.

The entertainment industry yearns to possess the power to shut down websites that provide access to downloadable movies, live concerts, music and TV shows.

The government is catering to the cantankerous, temperamental and greedy entertainment industry.

PIPA, however, will not block websites that violate copyright laws — they will put restrictions against search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, making them liable for lawsuits, even though Internet users can still download material.

Our favorite websites, such as YouTube, Twitter and Wikipedia, will, however, be under extreme scrutiny and may be forced to shut down because they would be liable for their users’ actions on their sites.

Websites do not want to act as regulators and filters for the government and then be held accountable for leaks.

MSNBC said, “Many in the tech world say the legislation would let federal authorities shut down portions of the Internet without due process and fundamentally alter the Internet’s ability to provide a platform for free speech.”

Inside citizens’ art and expression on the Internet lies copyrighted material such as movie clips and music.

Sites like YouTube would be held accountable and would be forced to place stricter restrictions on their site that inhibit users from freely utilizing their First Amendment right.

SOPA’s summary in the Library of Congress online states that the bill will include “criminal copyright infringement, unauthorized fixation and trafficking of sound recordings or videos of live musical performances, the recording of exhibited motion pictures or trafficking in counterfeit labels, goods or services.”

According to an online organization against Internet censorship, Fight for the Future, “ordinary users could go to jail for five years for posting any copyrighted work – even just singing a pop song.”

PIPA will also allow the government to cut off funding for websites that are accused of infringement.

And if users continue to use copyrighted material on these sites, they may close down permanently from lack of funding.

According to the Library of Congress online, SOPA “requires online service providers, Internet search engines, payment network providers and Internet advertising services … to carry out certain preventative measures including withholding services from an infringing site or preventing users located in the United States from accessing the infringing site.”

Among the many websites that are actively protesting PIPA and SOPA are Wikipedia, Craigslist, Google, Yahoo and eBay.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is the most active in opposition to these bills, going so far as to block the English version of his website for 24 hours from Jan. 18 to 19.

Google blacked out its logo for 24 hours in protest as well. Wales is adamant in letting the U.S. know that these bills are wrong and unconstitutional.

Not only will the bills challenge our granted First Amendment, the government will ultimately alter the Internet itself, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation stated: “The government would be able to force [Internet Service Providers] and search engines to block users’ attempts to reach certain websites’ URLs.

“In response, their parties will woo average users to alternative servers that offer access to the entire Internet, which will create new computer security vulnerabilities as the Internet grows balkanized.”

Not only are some of the major voices on the Internet in active protest against PIPA and SOPA, but politicians have gotten behind the anti-PIPA and anti-SOPA movement as well.

Among them are Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann and Nancy Pelosi. The zeitgeist of the Internet, as a result of these bills, is gaining momentum toward politics.

SOPA and PIPA bring unconstitutional implications that will modify the Internet and its future. It is the one medium the world has to freely express itself and be inspired.

These bills ultimately will not stop piracy, but they will allow for more censorship.

The Internet is already silenced enough by way of corporations taking down videos on YouTube.

With the passing of these bills comes the corporations’ regulation and restriction of the world’s only source of pure, unadulterated freedom.

This corruption of corporations’ persuasion of the government is going too far.

<i>Staff reporter Alley Jordan is a junior Latin major at Seattle Pacific.</i>

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Title: SOPA, PIPA threaten free expression | Author: Alley Jordan | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2012-01-25 | Internal ID: 7975

Alley Jordan

Opinion Editor Alley Jordan is a senior political science and classics major.