SOPA

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 17th, 2011 and is filed under Latest News.

The Stop Online Piracy Act, aka SOPA, is a new bill in America which they are hoping to pass, with a vote on the bill coming as early as next month. It sounds like it’s going to do something good but, in reality, has potential to change the Internet as we know it – in a very bad way.

 

SOPA puts power in the hands of the entertainment industry to censor sites that allegedly “engage in, enable or facilitate” copyright infringement. This language is unclear enough to include sites you use every day, like Twitter and Facebook, making SOPA a serious problem. They basically want to censor the entire Internet, which is plain crazy.

 

Originally SOPA has a very reasonable wish, which is to stop online piracy once and for all. This is fair enough and probably for the best, but it doesn’t matter whether you a pirate or not, this has the potential to make it possible for companies to block the domain names of websites that are simply capable of – or seem to encourage – copyright infringement.

 

What this means is if a website posts a link to pirated material, they could find themselves blocked… this could be even if you have a web video and it has copyrighted music on, or you share some of your own music on your blog or website. You could find your site blocked and if people have linked your content on other sites they could be blocked too.

 

This could very quickly get out of hand with websites that haven’t done anything really wrong being blocked. This is very worrying – it could ruin the Internet and what we have made it to be, this great sharing domain of everything and anything it is now.

 

However… what the bill can’t do is block numeric IP addresses, so it wouldn’t be able to stop downloaders of pirated content which is what it wants to do, apparently. Just because the domain name is blocked, doesn’t mean you can’t access every last bit of the site, as everything will still work via the numeric IP address.

 

This all means that SOPA won’t achieve anything. It will however be really good at blocking any websites capable of providing its users with the means of promoting pirated content or allowing the process i.e. websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and loads more.

 

In other words, all the lovely websites you use day in, day out could be blocked. If pirated content is posted/linked on the site, or information that could further online piracy, a claim can be brought against it. This can be something as minor as you posting a copyrighted image to your Facebook page!

 

Now that is just crazy! For example, we at the Web Video Store could find our site blocked even if someone posts a link in these very blog comments or on our Facebook wall. This would cause sheer pandemonium if websites all over the place get blocked just for something as silly as that. The vague language used in this bill is what makes it so worrying.