New bills threaten Internet

Wiki blackout web

Photo Credit: courtesy Creative Commons License, Flickr.com

Wikipedia showed their dislike for the two bills and blacked out their website.

Devon Yoxtheimer, staff reporter
February 6, 2012
Filed under Opinion

The Internet: a well of information at the tip of your fingertips, an endless supply of knowledge limited only by the patience needed to dig through all of the websites and the loading. The Internet is by far one of the most used inventions in the 21st century, with over 2 billion people using it every day worldwide. Yet, the US government has attempted to take control of the Internet by means of the SOPA and PIPA bill, presented by U.S Representative Lamar S. Smith.

Thankfully they were tabled, although not completely removed from Congress’s agenda, due to large scale protests from citizens all around the country, which is not surprising. Many have heard about the two bills, and know it threatens the Internet, but not a lot of people understand the full scope of what could happen if these two bills had been passed.

First, a little background information about these two bills. SOPA stands for “Stop Online Piracy Act,” and  PIPA stands for “Preventing Real -Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act” (it’s a mouthful, I know).

SOPA is pretty self explanatory. It was designed to stop people from stealing “US property.” According to the bill itself, US property includes, but is not limited to, anything that is copyrighted in the US. The PIPA act goes even farther than SOPA, giving the government and copyright holders the power to block any website (local or foreign) which is offering their copyrighted goods without credit and payment to the creator. These bills, not surprisingly, are supported by the big businesses and the entertainment field, for they are the ones losing money.

That is the basic gist of the two bills, but, then it gets interesting. How far will they go to police these bills? Lets take, for example, YouTube. YouTube is filled with copyrighted materials! Think of the intro song to a video, clips from movies, custom-made music videos to your favorite song, that awesome school project which has music.

All of these things and more could be subject to censorship. Because they don’t have  explicit permission from the copyright holder, the owner of the video would receive a friendly email from YouTube stating that they broke copyright law and there video has been removed, as explicitly stated in the bill itself. Same deal with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and even Myspace! If something is put up which is copyrighted it runs the risk of being removed from posts.

Another scary thing about these two bills is how they  will monitor people to make sure they’re not breaking copyright law. Will they be doing regular scans of the websites to make sure that there are no violations? Will they constantly monitor the Internet? Will they invade our privacy? That part was unclear to me in the bill, so I won’t make any assumptions on it, but one thing is certain, if these bills were to pass, the Internet would be a much different place.

And yet this is not the only thing threatening the Internet. Another bill has come to replace SOPA and PIPA, and this time it is on the international level. This bill is called ACTA, and it means business.

ACTA, which stands for “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement,” is very similar to the SOPA and PIPA acts in its job to stop copyright violation and intellectual property, but this time it involves the whole world. Many countries, including the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Australia, have all volunteered to be a part of this bill. This bill has been discussed behind closed doors where the public cannot have access to the files. Shouldn’t we be able to access the files and read what it is that we “volunteered” for?

This is just my opinion and what I got from reading the articles, and you don’t have to take my word for it, but I am pointing out the threat of what could happen. And if you are fine with what is going on, then don’t heed my words, but if you see what I see, and feel what I feel, than let your voice be heard!

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