We went through the many Napster lawsuits that put a scare into file sharing world; also, we read first- hand how traditional file sharing went bit torrent to attempt to hide what people were sharing. Now, coming out of the woodwork making a push to dictate what you can download, and block what you shouldn’t from the search engines and other authorities that offer digitally downloadable content, is a monstrosity of a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act. While other RIAA-endorsed companies are probably grinning from ear to ear in anticipation of the bill’s acceptance, others more common to the world of censorship are unwilling to waver from their stance against this potentially threatening legislation.
Most people fully understand the seriousness of sharing copyrighted materials such as movies and music, yet are unwilling to quit the practice as it would be similar to the technology of CDRW’s, which allow people to burn music onto CD’s and either give the music away or sell their works for profit, yet none of the compact disc companies appear to be under any scrutiny through the potential passing of this bill. Yet the powers that will come of the passing of this bill are ridiculous for foreign entities that steal American content, yet seem to miss the entire scope of pirated music. In fact, H.R. 3261 (SOPA) is simply a build off the Pro IP Act of 2008, which mandates IP protection and a motion to keep jobs in America. Reading through the proposed Act, it is inevitable that a threat to small businesses that may rely on the displaying of copyrighted goods will be jeopardized. At least, on the surface.
Cybersecurity, which is what will initially be threatened if this bill passes due to people still wanting to illegally obtain goods, is what people are screaming that will be compromised; however, one should really take the time to read the Fact Sheet that is available online through the Judiciary Committee, as it only seems to give the power to the Attorney Generals in each state to seek a Federal order to block TLD’s (top level domains) that choose to engage in pirating behavior; however, it says nothing for the individual that is sharing off his or her individual server. Over and over it stresses throughout the Fact Sheet that TLD’s will be the target, and ONLY the Attorney General has the inherent authority to request the blockage of any kind on a Federal level.
The Community Is NOT Happy
Instead of people taking this injunction for the bipartisan document that it is, screams of censorship and threats to monetary gain are being thrown around. And, with the way our internet operates, it appears that a new idea will spring up right after this Bill passes, if it even does (the Bill went to a Full Committee on 11/16/2011 and the results of hearing are not yet live). What this bill does NOT do, however, is put UGC (user generated content) under the microscope by any means. So, if your uncles want to share their home-made video all over the web, by all means, they will have the right.
The reality of the situation is this: as long as the internet is live and offers connection to various sources, there will never truly be a locked-down copyright mandating as people will simply share in smaller groups. Or, a new program will arise, draw a few million downloaders, and then evaporate. RIAA will never win, and they know it; I truly believe they grovel in their own controversy since they obviously can’t touch us. And if they did win, I guess that would continue to give everyone the right to buy 1 cd, and continually copy it all across the country. Think about it, people, you can’t censor what you cannot prove exists. And that battle, no matter what version of SOPA comes into play, will never be won until there is a presidential, or global, order to shut down the internet.
For more information on the facts and follies of the SOPA Bill and what it could mean for those who trade copyrighted software, visit the House Judiciary Fact Sheet.