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SOPA and PIPA Threaten A Free internet

There has been a lot of coverage recently about two new anti-piracy bills in the United States, which many feel would end the relative freedom of the Internet as it currently is. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) are broadly designed to help stop sites online sell or distribute copyrighted materials like films, music and even goods, which sounds like a good thing…right?
Whilst few would argue about the intentions of bills, in actual fact they would change the internet as we know it. Here are some of the salient points from each:

SOPA
– It would allow the US Attorney General to order a particular site or host to be removed or blocked at source. This may have been done by cutting the DNS, but soon after this was proposed the Obama administration said that “Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small.”

PIPA
– This would force US internet providers to block access to all websites deemed to have infringed copyright
– The infringed party would then be able to seek legal action against the search engines to have to the offending sites removed.
– This will also apply to all advertisers on the offending sites, as well as any new ones that start up.

This will effectively mean that all site owners, be they blogs, wikis or anything else will take on the responsibility for keeping their sites clean of infringements, so the internet will become one big hunt for violations. If someone uses a copyrighted logo or picture, even in the most harmless way, as a teaching aid or simply as a background filler for example, they are then liable and could be sued by the owner. This could end up affecting nearly every site online.

In an unprecedented show of solidarity, hundreds of the most popular websites online shut their doors for the day in a ‘blackout’ protest. This is an amazing concerted show of strength from a normally quite disparate group, and shows the severity of the bills. It succeeded in getting them shelved for the moment, but it’s certainly not the end of this. Find out more and get on board with the fight at americancensorship.org


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