You heard about them. (If you hadn’t, now you have). They are causing an uproar. People are protesting. On January 20th, Google sported a black banner, and Wikipedia even shut down. So, what is all the fuss about, and how does it affect us mere mortals?
Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) “is a United States bill … to expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.” (Wikipedia.com). The Protect IP Act (or PIPA) is “a proposed law with the stated goal of giving the US government and copyright holders additional tools to curb access to “rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods”, especially those registered outside the U.S.” (Wikipedia.com). Well, those two bills sound great on paper, so they should be passed. Right?
Wrong. According to The Small Business Authority, and to innumerable entities all across the web, those two bills would put a severe limit to freedom, and would lead to several undesired consequences:
- Censoring technology would have some negative repercussions on the overall economy, and would hinder newcomers’ creativity.
- Governmental intervention in the cyberspace would cause small business to stop innovating, out of fear of infringing laws.
- No more free information would be readily available, causing smaller players to wither, in case they do not have sufficient funds to purchase everything. (No Wikipedia, anyone?)
- Nobody would be able to do business with websites judged noncompliant, and even internet providers could be banned of hosting certain pages/websites.
This list is in no way exhaustive, and represents just a few things that could happen in case SOPA and PIPA are passed. And you, what do you believe? Do you think the bills are legitimate? If not, what changes would you prescribe? Make sure to leave your comment below, and until next week, stay WISE!