Understanding #SOPA. Take Action. #IfTheyShutDownTwitter #FactsWithoutWikepedia

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House Bill 3261’s premise is: “To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes.” (Full test of the Bill)

The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, was not written by people who fundamentally misunderstand how the web works. They understand all too well, and want to change it forever.

Behind the almost unreadable (yet truly scary) text of SOPA (and its Senate doppelganger, PIPA, or the Protect Intellectual Property Act) is a desire, likely fueled by powerful media conglomerate backers, to take us all back to the thin-pipe, content-distribution days of 1994 — right before the World Wide Web launched. From the moment the Internet and websites arrived, a veritable Pandora’s box of opportunities have opened to every average Joe and Josephine in the world. Everyone became a content creator. Everyone had an audience.

The Internet also almost immediately became the transport mechanism for a steady flow of pirated content — first images, then music and, when the pipe got fat enough, movies. Major media companies, which once upon a time had sole control of the creation and distribution of popular entertainment, were appalled — and also powerless to stop it.

The music industry stuck its head firmly in the sand and ignored the digital age for years. Its CDs (an early digital embrace I’ll bet the music industry still regrets) made it easy for anyone with a computer to rip and share music. The practice nearly gutted the record industry. Steve Jobs and Apple saved it at the turn of the century, but that’s another story.

When you turn copyright infringement into a felony and say that anyone can accuse a website of providing ”infringing” tools (and apply severe penalties whether or not you do something about it), you are essentially making it impossible for anyone to do anything online without fear of retribution.

This is just as the authors and backers want it, though. Fear is a powerful motivator. It will grind the engine of the Internet to a halt and when everyone is wondering what do to next, trying to figure out where they get their daily fix of viral videos or post their latest Bieber cover song, there will be media companies. They’ll be standing there, smiling, with open arms. One hand will be ready to give you a warm embrace, while the other collects your money. via Mashable by Lance Ulanoff

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Targeting on Bit Torrent Sites

The facilitator thing could be broadly applied, but it is targeted at Bit Torrent sites and websites supporting Bit Torrent like Pirate Bay (which helps you search for pirated material). The reasoning is that Bit Torrent (not the protocol, but the sites) allows people to steal copyrighted material (download music, movies, etc.) without specifically having the search engine or tool (like Frostwire) having to actually possess or distribute the copyrighted material.

So, Frostwire, for example, argues that they don’t steal anything. They just provide a service, and it is not their fault if it is misused, even though it is basically the ONLY reason it is used. Napster tried the same argument, but with Bit Torrent, the content can be spread out over a range of servers all over the world. Almost impossible to police. Take one down, 10 pop up. So the law tries to take out the facilitator making it impossible to find the Bit Torrent sites.

Problem is, it also goes after any site that facilitates (even if not intentionally) copyright infringement. So, just by the very nature of any site that supports upload and download of material, any website that does so, would facilitate copyright infringement. They don’t have to even have copyrighted material, only have a mechanism by which copyrighted material COULD be infringed.

Wikepedia

Wikipedia is a gray area. It is the 6th most accessed site. It has a slew of valuable information. But it has numerous outright copyright violations and is arguing that to police them is impossible. The law would kill the site entirely because ANY ability to provide input to a question or research area COULD result in copyright infringement, and just based on the fact it COULD, the site becomes illegal. The fact is though, it does infringe copyrights. Has for years. Has been controversial for years.

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Other parts of the law have been sort of in place for years. For example, if you sing a song not your own, even in a performance, you are supposed to get permission, etc. and perhaps pay for that right. The bill allows copyright holders, though, to place a value on the access and make it a crime even if you made no money doing it. The value is subjective.

The ability to sue ANY site owner at any time, winning the domain by default, is crazy because it favors those with deep pockets vastly too much. The companies would essentially have the right to sue anyone at any time and not even notify them. And if the site owner does not respond, they are not only liable, but their domain is forfeited. Google, etc. have to remove them from their search engines. I could see the industry just taking broad strokes creating HUGE lists of banned sites. When in doubt, ban it.

Foreign Sites

As for foreign sites, and the bill explicitly goes after them. Either they have to concede to US law or be banned. If they concede, most would be breaking it, so could face legal prosecution. If they concede, they are required to state they are NOT violating the law, and if they are, even unknowingly, that is perjury, which is a felony.

How you would extradite the people and prosecute them though, is unclear. They would essentially become internet outlaws and banned, but criminal prosecution would be near impossible.

We understand both sides, and we do NOT have a good solution. However, we are one in taking action because the bill is too broad and all encompassing that it will greatly affect the way we use internet as we know it. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogs, Flickr will cease to exist or be extremely limited in its content should the law be enacted.

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TAKE ACTION. Tell Congress.

More Readings via Mashable’s coverage.

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One Response to "Understanding #SOPA. Take Action. #IfTheyShutDownTwitter #FactsWithoutWikepedia"

  1. David   May 3, 2012 at 12:25 am

    “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

    The more power we give to the government, the more power they will want and expect in the future. Don’t let that one day of protest be the end of your vigilance. Keep pressure on you representative to make sure they don’t support any bill which restricts the freedom on the Internet.

    Reply

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