What is SOPA and How It Will Affect You

Have you heard of SOPA? It’s one of the latest topics being discussed at the moment. SOPA is an acronym for Stop Online Piracy Act. Its primary purpose is to acknowledge and rectify an ongoing dilemma where foreign sites sell products that are pirated such as music, movies, etc. SOPA is designed to prevent companies in the United States from funding, advertising, or providing assistance to foreign sites. To implement this plan, internet providers are given the authority to restrict their users’ access to these sites. The act also grants the U.S. attorney general to obtain a court order against these sites that will give them permission to delete the site, altogether.

The advantage of the Stop Online Piracy Act is that it allows copyright holders to file claims against foreign websites indiscriminately. Its focal point pertains to putting a halt to any financial losses, or potential losses. It is apparent that SOPA was not shaped to harm the users of the internet that use the web legally, but rather those sites who provide housing for stolen and pirated material; however, some may say that this act, if passed, may do more harm than good.

A major concern in regards to the possible implementation of this act is that some feel as though it may prevent U.S. sites from promoting new ideas and products. Another major concern is that there is a strong possibility that many popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Google, etc, will be harshly affected. This is because they allow users to upload content to their sites as long as such content adheres to their terms and conditions. While SOPA is designed with good intentions, the problem that seems to exist is that many users may not be able to distinguish what is illegal and what is exactly appropriate. For example, there are tons of users that upload copyrighted content on a daily basis. It is quite often that we see users uploading videos of themselves to YouTube and Facebook to share with family and friends that may contain copyrighted material. This can include a user uploading a video of them singing a copyrighted song or sharing an image in which they may find interesting. If the Stop Online Piracy Act is passed, doing the previously mentioned will be illegal.

In response to this possible act, popular sites such as Wikipedia and Google, along with other sites, have protested against it by shutting down their domains, known as a “blackout”, to their every day users. This is in an attempt to raise awareness about an issue that can change the way we behave via the internet. Many have also set up petitions on their sites for users to sign. It has been recently reported that Google has collected over 7 million signatures from the U.S. alone, in regards to this petition.

So, what will it actually mean if SOPA is passed? There is a possibility that there may be less freedom for users of the Internet even though this act is purposely designed for protection of its users. At this point, the House of Congress has yet to pass the bill. Nevertheless, if the bill is passed, the final decision rests with President Obama.

This blog was written by Carla Buckner, Lint Center intern with information cutoff date of 20 January 2012.


Works Cited


Kain, E.D. (2012) No, President Obama Did Not Kill SOPA. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/01/18/no-president-obama-did-not-kill-sopa

Google. 2012. More About SOPA and PIPA. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/sopa-pipa

Business Insurance. 2012. Who SOPA and Protect IP hurts most. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsurance.org/who-sopa-and-protect-ip-hurts-the-most

Wikipedia. 2012. Stop Online Piracy Act. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act

Editorial Tidbit:

Internet capitalization conventions are the practices of various publishers regarding the capitalization of “Internet” or “internet”, when referring to the Internet/internet, as distinct from generic internets(or internetworks).

Since the widespread deployment of the Internet Protocol Suitein the early 1980s, the Internet standards-setting bodies and technical infrastructure organizations, such as the Internet Engineering Task Force(IETF), the Internet Society, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers(ICANN), the World Wide Web Consortium, and others, have consistently spelled the name of the world-wide network, the Internet, with an initial capital letterand treated it as a proper nounin the English language.[original research?]Before the transformation of the ARPANETinto the modern Internet, the term internet in its lower case spelling was a common short form of the term internetwork, and this spelling and use may still be found in discussions of networking.

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_capitalization_conventionsRetrieved from Internet 21 January 2012.

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