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SOPA and PIPA: Two sides to a surging debate

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Recently the hottest debate has been about SOPA and PIPA. Many people voiced their opinion, largely in opposition to the government’s attempt to have some control over the internet in attempt to protect intellectual property. Petitions and opposition were largely shared through social media sites and search engines, such as Google and Wikipedia. Is it really wrong to vote these acts through? Two of our writers explore this issue.

Proposed bills threaten Internet and freedom of speech

Imagine the Internet being censored. Wait what? This is exactly the sentiment that many people across the United States felt recently. The proposed SOPA and PIPA acts caused a stir through the technological world, sending waves of opposition through social media and blogs.

Many people heard of these proposed laws, but who knows if everyone was fully informed on these bills. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is a bill that was proposed in the House of Representatives. This bill would expand the ability of the government to fight online trafficking, which includes things such as intellectual property and counterfeit goods.

PIPA (protect ip act) is a law that was proposed in the Senate. It would give the government and copyright holders more tools to curb access to web sites that infringe on intellectual property rights.

At first these proposed bills may have sounded like a good idea; it would help protect intellectual property that others have the right to control. But the grim reality of this is what the government would be doing if they were passed. If passed, this would essentially give the U.S. government some substantial control over the Internet. If this were to happen, this would be very dangerous to the Internet and all its users.

The government having the ability to censor would be detrimental to the essence and fundamental function of the Internet: to promote free speech and innovation. People have long been using the Internet, often while using another person’s work as inspiration or for background information.

Imagine an aspiring artist not being able to post a cover of a famous song on YouTube because they do not have the rights to that song. Of course, these proposed bills were not met with many positive responses in the Internet world, especially by younger users.

If either of these two were to pass we would be crippling democracy and the freedom that the Internet has always provided. The government shouldn’t dictate Internet policy, since there technically is none.

In a matter of days Facebook was full of links to petitions to kill these bills, including the telephone numbers of representatives, urging people to call and express their dismay towards these proposed laws.

The outcry did not stop there. Large websites took notice as well. Google blacked out its name on its home page in protest of SOPA and PIPA. Mark Zuckerburg wrote a letter on Facebook proclaiming his opposition to the bill. Wikipedia actually went dark for a whole day in protest of them as well.

A few days after the Internet erupted in protest, many senators backed out of their support of the bills.

At first this was something that was being largely ignored by the mainstream media, but it was impossible to ignore. With Wikipedia blacking out and Internet users everywhere flooding social media sites with links and statuses, the news was soon peppered of SOPA and PIPA related items.

The voting on these bills has been delayed, due to the mass amount of outcry and petitions. These laws would have a much more detrimental effect than any lawmaker in support of it could imagine.

Of course there are people who lose money due to illegal downloads from the Internet, but these laws mean more than that. Instead of trying to censor a tool that has proven beneficial to our country, I believe lawmakers should be focusing on more important issues. The highest priority topics should consist of talks about the economy, education and foreign policy, not how to hinder an open medium that has long been under no central control.

Rene Howard-Paez, Managing Editor

Lawmakers attempt to protect intellectual property

First and foremost, everyone take a nice deep breath.

After that, rejoice in the idea that because of your outcry and your opposition of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), the Jan. 24 date of voting has been postponed, according to bbc.co.uk.

And yet, why do I feel like people have petitioned, protested and signed against this bill for all the wrong reasons?

Let’s face it, we as college students are notoriously known as being broke. So instead of going out and spending 14 dollars on a movie ticket (along with popcorn and a soda) what do we do?

Google [Insert name of the latest movie] and download for free.

The whole point of the SOPA bill was not to stifle user creativity and content. It was to ensure websites did not encourage piracy of the latest movies or music and for those same websites to not profit from this illegal content.

Every time you visit a Web page that features illegal videos, ever notice those ads either around or directly in front of the video?

The webmaster of that page essentially is profiting from someone else’s production, the very thing the bill sought to reduce.

The bill also attempted to shut down websites that produce counterfeit products, websites that knowingly steal your credit card information or steal your personal identity. It was meant to protect you.

I know, I know. Shutting down an entire website due to one user’s illegal uploads is harsh and a little overboard. But this is why the bill has been taken off of the table and is being rewritten.

I have MANY friends who signed petitions for the same reasons: to keep their bootleg movies, music and games, and I’m sure there are many others.

However, the SOPA act wasn’t the evil empire from Star Wars, seeking to capture and detain any and all user-created content. The central idea of the act was actually well-meaning. I can only hope people take a step back next time and learn the facts about legislation instead of signing blindly and wildly on the dotted line.

– Anthony Garcia, Staff Writer

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