Though it is well intentioned, examining the facts of this bill shows that if it were to pass, it would be extremely harmful to the Internet as we know it.
What is SOPA?
SOPA is a bill that is currently sitting in the House Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives awaiting further debate.
Under SOPA, U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders would be given the ability to to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.
The trouble with SOPA
Taking into account the ways in which the bill intends to stamp out online piracy, several issues with the bill become apparent:
- Strengthening the power of copyright holders on the Internet through government legislation has proven ineffective in the past, having done little to stop online piracy. Offending websites that are shut down simply reappear under a new URL.
- Lots of piracy sites are hosted outside of the US so they could not be effectively shut down by US law. This bill would make it so that copyright holders would only be able to have the DNS records removed from US servers. This effectively means that the site still exists and can be accessed directly through an IP address and does nothing to stop the piracy.
- DNS Blocking like this is thought to compromise your personal security on the Internet.
- Companies that have simply embraced the convenience of the Internet for consumers have been more effective at curbing piracy, like NetFlix and Spotify.
- Vague language used in the bill like "facilitating copyright infringement" may easily be turned against the sites Internet users rely on daily.
How would SOPA impact the Internet?
Under SOPA, U.S. law enforcement would be able to blacklist entire websites using DNS blocking simply for containing any instance of content deemed offending. This would affect sites with a great deal of user generated content, including Curse and all social media sites.
In fact it's thought that using DNS blocking would actually decrease your security online by creating conflicts between DNS servers, which would make users more vulnerable to hackers, identity theft, and cyber attacks.
Search engines would be forced to block links to any sites found to be "enabling or facilitating" copyright infringement, making it impossible for users to find the amount of information that they can now.
SOPA would literally allow copyright holders the ability to censor any content deemed to be facilitating copyright infringement, and some have already listed popular sites like Vimeo, SoundCloud, and PayPal as potential targets.
How do I take a stance on SOPA?
Were SOPA to become law, the Internet as we know it would change dramatically due to rampant censorship by the US Department of Justice and copyright holders. Of course, we are against online piracy, but SOPA is not the answer.
To preserve the freedom of the Internet, it's important to stand in opposition to SOPA. Write to your representative in Congress and spread the word through social media.
Writing your congressional representative is simple. The House of Representative's website has an easy-to-use tool to find your representative and send him/her an email. You can also sign the Whitehouse.gov petition.
Please join us in standing up for free speech, the rights of online communities, and the future of the Internet.
- SOPA Wikipedia Article
- List of Companies Expressing Concern with SOPA
- Fight for the Future SOPA Video
- ReadWriteWeb's What You Need To Know About SOPA
- How Much Does Piracy Really Cost?
- Stanford Law Review's Take: Don't Break the Internet
- TrendMicro on how SOPA will threaten Internet Security.
- List of Articles on SOPA implications.
If you have thoughts on SOPA or more SOPA resources you would like to share please do so in the comments below. I have created this in the Off Topic forum so any user can reply.