SOPA: The Wrong Approach To Intellectual Property Protection
This was in response to the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), which in recent months have garnered the attention of the general Internet community, politicians and tech giants like Google, Wikipedia and Reddit.
It sounds innocuous enough. Who would be against something that blatantly speaks out against stealing intellectual property, after all? But the issue here is not one debating whether thieving is right or wrong. Rather, the question is whether the right tool is being used to protect intellectual property online.
As initially drafted, SOPA takes a broad stroke approach in thwarting illegal content sharing from foreign sites.
From The Verge:
1. Order internet service providers to alter their DNS servers from resolving the domain names of websites in foreign countries that host illegal copies of videos, songs, and photos.
2. Order search engines like Google to modify search results to exclude foreign websites that host illegally copied material.
3. Order payment providers like PayPal to shut down the payment accounts of foreign websites that host illegally copied material.
4. Order ad services like Google's AdSense to refuse any ads or payment from foreign sites that host illegally copied content.
See SOPA section 102 and PIPA section 3.
To summarize, passing strict policies like SOPA and PIPA would give copyright holders the ability to remove from the Internet any foreign sites (excluding sites under U.S. jurisdiction) accused of hosting illegal content. Furthermore, such sites would essentially be blacklisted and removed from search engines like Google and lose funding sources. And, worst of all, no due process is required for such punishment to be doled out to the accused.
But opponents of the bill say such an imposition to the structure of the Internet would result in the destruction of the free and open Net as we know it.
“Both of them essentially use the bunker-buster bomb when what you need is a laser beam.” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said on CSPAN earlier this year in describing SOPA and sister bill PIPA.
That sentiment is shared by groups like Google and Wikipedia, who described the proposed bill as harmful and an infringement on freedom of speech online.
“We feel SOPA is overbroad, dangerous to the technical operation of the Internet, and will ultimately cost us more in compliance costs than it might save by ‘protecting’ our work,” said Nilay Patel on behalf of TheVerge.com and Vox Media. “It’s a bad law, and we think it needs to be stopped.”
Putting it in perspective, consider sites like YouTube or Wikipedia which have come to flourish and become something of a cultural revolution in sharing information online. If policies like SOPA and PIPA were in place at the time when these companies were starting up, they would have been banned from the Internet and unavailable.
Facing such criticism, the SOPA creator Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) announced his plans to remove the provision that, “requires Internet Service Providers to block access to certain foreign websites.”
The issue is currently in the stages of being shaped and most recently, Smith has said the issue will be addressed again as early as February.
Reach reporter Jacob Chung here.
Best way to find more great content from Neon Tommy?
Or join our email list below to enjoy the weekly Neon Tommy News Highlights.