Although they may sound like characters of some old fairy tale, SOPA and PIPA are sure to diminish the entire domain of user-content websites, if implemented. The Stop Online Piracy Act SOPA and the related Protect Intellectual Property Act PIPA are the US House Bills to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods.
The proposal in these bills include barring advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with allegedly infringing websites, barring the search engines from linking to these sites and requiring Internet service providers to block access to the sites. The main purpose of these sites is to make it harder for sites, especially those located outside the US, to sell or distribute pirated copyrighted material like movies and music apart from goods like counterfeited watches and bags. The bill is sure to cut off funding by prohibiting payment services from cooperating with infringing sites. Some say this would give rise to an ‘internet blacklist.’
The problem with these bills is that instead of just impacting a portion of the site which is involved in these activities, the entire site would be affected. If I analyse it, I really feel this is absurd as it is like asking the manager of a superstore to shut down the entire store just because there was some problem in one section!
This bill has also brought the entertainment industry against the technology industry. A huge number of people, even Americans, make a living by dreaming up content and selling it to the world. Even Silicon Valley has invested billions in creating companies that distribute information freely. While Google and other Silicon Valley companies respect copyrights, they earn their bread by helping people find what they want. If suddenly every website that links to others has to rethink if it is violating the law by linking to a prohibited website, the entire scenario would change. Not only this, it is for sure that SOPA and PIPA can be abused and lead to censorship for purposes.
Two days back, the English Wikipedia, Reddit and a number of other websites coordinated a service blackout to protest against this law. A number of other companies like Google posted links and images to raise awareness.
I, on behalf of the team of Oslo Times, want to put this question to the people who have initiated this bill that how someone can punish an entire website for something that may have been written through a blog!
This bill should be opposed by the entire internet community as it is not only going to kill an entire domain of user-content website, but may also kill innovation in the first place.