Salutations loyal Hip Hop Democrat readers! To quote that wacky guy who helped save the day in the movie Independence Day… I’mmmmmmmm baaaaaaaaaaaaaack!! Did you miss me? No? Well I sure missed you all! Sorry to have stayed away so long, but sometimes life does indeed get in the way. And rather than bore you to tears with the reasons why I was gone so long, let’s just jump right into something we should all be more worried about than my misadventures in life. I know, what’s more important than me right? Well this is:
SOPA(Stop Online Piracy Act)
Introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith(R), who had nothing better to do in October of 2011, SOPA is supposed to, in theory, protect sites from copyright infringement. The thing is, the powers granted by the SOPA act a broad. Too broad in fact. Allow me to explain:
Under SOPA, an accusation of copyright violation is enough to allow the Department of Justice and any complainant who gets a court order, to shut down websites that facilitate copyright infringement. Possible actions that could be taken include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators like PayPal from doing business with the allegedly infringing websites, barring search engines like Google and Bing from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to the sites. In layman terms, all of our favorite sites like Hip Hop Democrat, Google+ , Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google, Yahoo, AOL, Tumblr, eBay, Youtube, and others, could all be shut down on a single accusation of copyright infringement. The fact that the violation could be unknowing or inadvertent doesn’t matter. The accused party doesn’t even have to be found guilty in a court of law first.
Even if another site is just affiliated with and “offending” site, they could be blacklisted without doing anything wrong. Once blacklisted the site would, for all intents and purposes, disappear. Typing said blacklisted site into a search engine would bring up no information and typing the site’s url into your browser would bring up nothing, as the site would then be effectively blocked by the search engine and your internet provider once it’s identified as a blacklisted site. This can also create monopolies. Content owners could demand that financial services providers stop providing services to the alleged offenders, thus creating a strain on finances and companies then go out of business, leaving only the content providers in business. Without ever having to get a court order. Innovation can get stifled in the long term because companies have to spend valuable time and resources defending themselves against frivolous and bogus claims(We see something similar going on today with Patent Trolls trying to sue everyone in sight who has a product shaped like a rectangle. I’m looking RIGHT AT YOU APPLE). Can you imagine what companies like Google or Facebook or Twitter would look like today if they had to spend almost 100% of their time and resources in court defending themselves from bogus claims?
This is just the House Bill. The Senate has their own bill, thus creating the most unstoppable tag team of all time. It’s called PIPA. The Protect IP Act. Mark my words when I tell you that these are very dangerous bills indeed. So dangerous in fact that Google, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Yahoo, eBay, Wikipedia, and Amazon.com are considering BLACKING OUT their sites on January 23rd, the day before Congress resumes debate on these controversial bits of legislation. And this doesn’t just effect major businesses. The private consumer(you and me) are at risk as well. Can you imagine how movements such as the Occupy Movement or Arab Spring would have/can be impacted by these acts? And I know some of you are asking where’s the “major media” coverage. Well, there isn’t any. And there won’t be any. The parent companies of all of the major media outlets are 100% BEHIND these bills! So it’s up to internet sites like The Hip Hop DEMOCRAT, blog sites, local media Internet sites, political sites and “Joe and Jane” average consumer to let Congress know that SOPA and PIPA are not only bad for business, but bad for the consumer and citizen as well. I asked the question in the title, “how bad is SOPA really”? The answer is VERY.
For more information on SOPA click here
Photo courtesy of http://www.techzork.com