What is SOPA?

by | Jan 10, 2012 | Opinionated? Me? | 0 comments

Nobody would deny that the Internet is a wonderful resource, whether it’s for information, entertainment or communication. But in recent years, most specifically, film and music companies as well as the actors/actresses and musicians themselves have been faced with decreasing sales largely down to illegal downloads and piracy.

SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, is a bill (proposed law) that was introduced into America last October. In recent news, a university student from Great Britain is facing possible extradition to the USA on charges of breaching American copyright laws by providing external links to illegal film and television downloads, therefore bringing the term SOPA into light.

The main ‘point’ of this bill is to prevent or, if it comes to it, bring to justice those who have enabled access to and provided pirated and illegal online content that infringes copyright law. SOPA applies to downloads, streaming (a term which refers to the deliverance of live audio/visual playing where no data is downloaded onto the computer in use) and to any copyrighted ‘intellectual property’ (anything designed or created by a person or persons, from music and film to inventions and theories) and ‘counterfeit goods’ (imitation consumer products).

But there are opponents to this bill. Some industry experts believe that censoring all access to all of the above could permanently damage the overall online community. Social media especially (Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc) are all largely based on the sharing of ideas, attitudes and freedom of speech which could potentially breach SOPA legislation.

On a much more fearful level, opponents believe that should SOPA become a law, that it will start an international censorship of the web, such as what we already see in China and other Asian countries where there is highly restricted access to Internet content. Many high profile websites have declared their opposition to SOPA, including Amazon, Yahoo, Paypal and AOL, with some of these and other websites committed to demonstrating against such a law through an ‘online blackout’ on January 18th 2012.

Some say that SOPA is nothing to worry about – I’d say we should be very worried.

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