SOPA is a legislative bill proposed by Lamar S. Smith, an U.S. Representative. SOPA stands for the “Stop Online Piracy Act”, a bill that once passed, will allow the U.S. to shut down and arrest any website or individual that is using copyrighted material. It gives the U.S. law force authorization to fight illegal spreading of intellectual property and counterfeit goods. In essence, it was a bill that wants to stop all online piracy, domestic AND international.
There were both supporters and opponents of SOPA, of which the opponents were the majority. The supporters argued that the U.S. government had the right to protect its citizens’ intellectual property on the internet, and could therefore convict any pirate or associated website with fraud and copyright theft. The opponents argued that the internet was a free domain, and is composed mainly of user- generated content. If America takes down any violator of copyright, the internet would cease to exist.
All over the globe, dozens and dozens of websites protested against SOPA, mainly the ones which rely on user-generated content. Wikipedia, Google, and Mozilla all put up banners on their websites, advocating users to try and stop the passing of SOPA. Due to the lack of response from senators, many websites completely blacked out on January 18th, 2012. An estimated 200 million people were affected by the blackout.
On January 20th, only 2 days after the worldwide blackout, the House Judiciary Committee decided to postpone the drafting of the bill, effectively killing it. Mass online celebrations occurred, celebrating the “death” of SOPA. The internet would remain free of America’s online law enforcement for now.
America would be basically be given full control of patrolling the internet, arresting any people who are accused of copyright infringement or intellectual theft. They could also shut down any website the culprit posted their information on, such as Wikipedia. Thus, any website could be brought down, thanks to a few law-breakers. This means that Google, Wikipedia, Youtube, Yahoo, and hundreds of other websites could be taken down by the U.S. government, regardless of whether the websites are American or not.
Search engines are at the greatest risk of being taken down, if SOPA was passed. The reason? Search engines act as gateways for any user to access the internet. If you need to search anything, you just need to go to Google or Yahoo, search what you need, and millions of websites would appear. If all search engines were taken down, there would be no way to process all this information. This would cause an information shortage, due to people not being able to find information that they really need.
Wikipedia is regarded as one of the most useful and important websites in the world, alongside Google and Youtube. Without it, we’ve basically lost the best and most informative encyclopedia in the world. During the 01/18/12 blackout, millions were affected by the Wikipedia blackout. If SOPA had been passed, there would basically be a blackout 24/7.
YouTube is the largest video-sharing website in the world. Millions of people use it on a daily basis, whether to look at funny cat videos, the latest “Ray William Johnson” clips, movie trailers, or music videos. If YouTube and other similar websites were gone, we’d lose access to all those videos and information. All those millions of videos, gone.
We should really be grateful that SOPA was not passed. Were it passed, the internet would die. It’s as simple as that. There would be no more user-generated content at all, if all the information-sharing websites were taken down. However, the issue of copyright infringement is still present. Is it legal and lawful to put up the latest “Starcraft II” game on the internet, so anyone can download it for free? There is no “correct” answer, but the answer definitely isn’t “Let’s shut down everything!”
Now get back to browsing the other PPTs on this website, which lives and dies on user- generated content.