In the last twenty-four hours, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) are breaking into the mainstream dialogue. SOPA in the House and PIPA in the Senate intend to stop internet piracy by foreign-based companies that sell, distribute and steal copyrighted items.
Major Players – The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is the biggest proponent of the bill. They claim that much of their copyrighted material is stolen and pirated for free online. Some of the biggest opponents of the bill are: Google, Wikipedia, AOL, facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, ACLU, MoveOn, Tea Party Patriots and over four-million U.S. citizens signed the online petition. Opponents are claiming that these sweeping new powers will not stop piracy, infringe on free speech and websites will be shut down without evidence or a trial.
What Happens if Passed? – Various departments within the US Government can force internet providers to block access to various foreign private websites, stop credit card processors from processing payments, and allow private lawsuits by content providers or Hollywood studios against websites that allegedly host pirated material.
Coordinated Protest – On January 18, 2012, various internet companies coordinated a large scale internet protest in which a black box covered over logos, words, and blogs of various websites. A few examples of protest were: a black box over Google’s logo, Wikipedia blocking access to English definitions, WordPress placing black boxes over featured blogs and Wired placing sporadic black bars across the front page.
Was the Protest a Success? – Absolutely. First, according to Google Trends report, the SOPA and PIPA legislation account for seven out of the top twenty searches today. Second, according to Wall Street Journal, various legislators who supported the bill, i.e., John Boehner, Orrin Hatch, Marco Rubio, Scott Brown and Roy Blunt are now reconsidering their positions. With the change of heart of these Congressmen, a vote may never take place. Third, the protests enlightened many Americans that freedom of speech is sacred and that freedom is worth fighting for. Interestingly, bitter ideological opponents, i.e., MoveOn and Tea Party Patriots who are unified in defense of liberty, coalesce together to protest the passage of SOPA and PIPA. For these three reasons, the passage of the bill is in jeopardy.
Los Angeles Times. Google Says that 4.5. Million Signed the Anti-SOPA Petition Today
Wall Street Journal. What is SOPA Bill Anyway?
The Washington Times. Blackout Day: Stopping SOPA
Google Trends. January 18, 2012
Wall Street Journal. SOPA Bill Faces New Hurdles.