What Is SOPA & Why Should It Concern You

The past couple of days you might have seen a bunch of sites talking about SOPA, PIPA, blackouts and asking you to sign petitions. But what is SOPA? Short for Stop Online Piracy Act, it is a proposed bill that aims to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that host pirated content.

Simply put,the government is trying to crack down on sites that promote illegally downloading movies, music and media. This is definitely something that should be supported – but the way SOPA is setup, it promotes censorship and can lead to unwanted circumstances.

Here is an excerpt from a CNN Money article posted yesterday:

Let’s say a YouTube user uploads a copyrighted song. Under the current law, that song’s copyright holders could send a “takedown notice” to YouTube. YouTube is protected against liability as long as it removes the content within a reasonable timeframe.

When it gets a DMCA warning, YouTube has to notify the user who uploaded the content. That user has the right to file a counter-motion demonstrating that the content doesn’t infringe on any copyrights. If the two sides keep disagreeing, the issue can go to court.

The problem with DMCA, critics say, is that it’s useless against overseas sites.
SOPA tackles that by moving up the chain. If you can’t force overseas sites to take down copyrighted work, you can at least stop U.S. companies from providing their services to those sites. You can also make it harder for U.S. Internet users to find and access the sites.

But SOPA goes further than DMCA and potentially puts site operators on the hook for content their users upload. A site could be deemed a SOPA scofflaw if it takes “deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability” that its service will be used for copyright infringement. That kind of swampy language has tech companies spooked.

“YouTube would just go dark immediately,” Google public policy director Bob Boorstin said at a conference last month. “It couldn’t function.”

While there are good intentions with SOPA, the above excerpt shows you how one site many of us frequent will be affected. There needs to be another way – a better way – of putting an end to piracy without censoring the rest of the internet.

If you’re looking for more info on SOPA and its negative implications, here is a quick list of articles you can read:

SOPA Will Take Us Back to the Dark Ages – Mashable
Why Start-ups Are Scared of SOPA – Inc
SOPA Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Sleeping (Until February) – TechCrunch

If you would like your voice to be heard, please visit Google’s page to End Piracy, Not Liberty.