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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Stop the Stop Online Piracy Act

I was surprised to learn that most people in England are unaware of the Stop Online Piracy Act, a law that the US government intends to pass on December 15. Also know as the E-Parasite, SOPA is internet censorship. The government wants to push this through congress as they're trying to crack down on internet piracy. This doesn't sound like too much of a bad thing, and most of you might think that this would mostly apply to pirated movies uploaded to websites such as MegaVideo. The act states that whoever uploads copyrighted material is now a criminal - it is a federal offence. Oh, and the website that the video got uploaded to, gets taken down. This could mean the deletion of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and even Youtube. Say an infringed video is uploaded on to a website, the owner/host of that website is legally responsible. This is a massive problem for Youtube, as millions of videos are uploaded to their website every day. Normally, if someone finds a video with copyrighted material, they can flag it and Youtube will investigate it, and if they agree it's copyrighted, the video is taken down. But under this new act, the uploader of the video has broken the law, and the website is deleted completely. After this, search a popular channel on Google, it's been wiped out completely, you can't find it. Shared a video on Facebook? You're a criminal, website taken down.

Now who could possibly support such an act? The majority of support is coming from film studios, who have been losing money since people discovered you could watch and torrent films online. To most people, who would want to spend £10 on a cinema ticket or a DVD when they could watch it or download it for free online?

As you can expect, there has been a huge backlash from the internet who have been protesting on the streets and on social networks in order to get their message across. If this law passes, the government will be so powerful that they can block out the voices against them. They could have the tiniest excuse against a website and take them down anyway. The result could be a virtually broken Internet where some sites exist for half the world and not for the other.

Do we want to have an internet where our favourite websites are taken away from us, and laws so strict that we're afraid to share or view anything?

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