A personal site, I Am Proud to be INDIAN and Proud Being HUMAN.

Friday, 20 January 2012

SOPA : Why is the Internet World Against It ?

10:15 Posted by vijay pasham No comments

Several prominent websites like Wikipedia, Reddit and Wired went 'dark' on Wednesday to protest the proposed anti-piracy legislation in the US called SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act. 

Why is the online world up in arms against it? After all, piracy does hurt copyright holders - but the way SOPA aims to go about curbing it threatens several aspects of the internet as we know it today. 

How will SOPA halt piracy? 


Websites that distribute links or host pirated files often spring up in far-flung places, away from US jurisdiction. But the Justice Department could ask the internet providers to block such websites. Even search engines like Google could be asked to exclude search results from blocked websites. 

Credit card companies and payment gateways like PayPal could be asked to block payment and companies could be prohibited from placing ads on such sites. 

Who is supporting SOPA? 


Primarily copyright holders and industry bodies like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). 

What's the problem with that? Wouldn't blocking piracy websites be good? 

Who defines what constitutes pirated content? Would simply talking about a pirated movie on your blog be construed as promotion of piracy? 

What about a situation where a website is unknowingly hosting pirated content? For instance, file sharing websites have useruploaded content. 

Their terms and conditions may clearly state that sharing of pirated content is illegal and they are constantly taking down offending material and blocking users. But it's impossible to monitor millions of users in real time. 

Should the file-sharing service be penalised for what the users upload? Similarly, many websites that you use (like Facebook, Twitter or Google services) rely on user content. 

Will SOPA 'kill' the internet? 

SOPA proposes up to five-year prison term for those found guilty of piracy or counterfeiting goods (for the first offence, if found guilty of streaming 10 pieces of copyrighted content within six months). 

The loose wording of the law states that the offending domain will be blocked. This is downright silly, as can easily be illustrated with these examples: if a single blog on Blogspot or Wordpress is hosting copyrighted content, all our blogs on these two sites will be branded as illegal by the US government. 

If a user (knowingly or unknowingly) posts any copyrighted content on Facebook, Twitter, Google or similar websites, it can get blocked and ultimately lead to their closure. 

How will it affect you and me? 

Protestors argue that the internet should be open for anyone to access global resources and to exercise the right to free speech. 

If SOPA comes into effect and a list of blocked websites has to be maintained by the internet service provider, then the operator will also have to monitor the internet traffic of each and every user. This not only raises issues of privacy but also opens a door for hackers to gain access to sensitive user data. 

SOPA will, in essence, legitimise censorship, make it 'acceptable' or the 'right thing to do'. The US government will reserve the right to brand any website as illegal and cut off all support to it. 

This will hurt entrepreneurial online ventures, hurt jobs and several of your favourite websites may be gone forever too. Plus there will always be ways to get around censorship and those in the know will manage - just the regular users of the internet will be affected.

0 comments:

Post a Comment