What was the problem with SOPA and PIPA and why should we care? 1st slide
A lot of you will probably be aware of SOPA and PIPA but why did it draw such a strong reaction from sites such as wikipedia and a vocal amount of internet users?
2nd slide Problems
The idea of the stop online privacy act is to give copyright holders control of their work that is hosted on non-US sites, the purpose of SOPA is to give tools to the Copyright holders to do something about this. But the problem with this bill is that it gives them the power to also do a lot more
3rd slide problems
Now Sopa aswell as the bill written by the US senate PIPA seemed to imply that this could also filter to sites that are seen to be enabling copyright infringement, as the US can’t nesscerialy go after foreign sites but they certianly can go after sites which host the foreign content and here lies the main problem which most see with the bill.
4th slide Problems
Because with that in mind, that would mean anybody using a site hosted in the U.S could be affected, Facebook users could be held accountable for posting an illegal upload of a song they like gamers for playing hacks of popular games or games unattainable physically (such as old atari games for example)
5th slide search engines
Now this would have a huge impact on search engines because obviously they link to and make profit from linking to sites that ‘may or may not’ host illegal content. How dangerous is that if copyright holders can force google to block access to sites?
6th slide problems
This may seem reasonable to some people, as it will lower the rate of illegal content being displayed on the internet. But this is very much a shoot people and ask questions later bill and content linkers may be forced to act before a foreign site is even proved to be illegal
imagine the impact this would have on the foreign business legitimate or not if search engines were forced to cut off all ties until the site proved it’s innocence and if the search engines don’t comply then the legal action turns to them forcing US sites to be regulators on things they really can’t control.
8th slide Print screen
The vague wording is a problem as it gives no clear inditction as to what exactly is ‘enabling’ access to illegal sites, if you link to a site on the media blog that’s illegal are you an enabler?
Based on this definition then the site the comment was uploaded to would be responsible for the link so sites such as you-tube could be fined for a comment or video that You upload, as you can imagine there is little way to manage this.
So if sites like you-tube can’t manage the content that appears on it, then it could be shut down under the wording of this law, then almost any site could be shut down. How many of you could cope without networks like Twitter or facebooks or online news outlets.
There are of course laws already in place to stop copyright infringement on youtube as i’m sure you all know, where holders will notify the source of the material and then they can investigate. SOPA would allow holders to again shoot first and ask questions later.
A court order could theoretically be placed to take down any site that holds User generated content so that could mean the whole of facebook could easily go down under this law if left the way it currently runs.
So I hope you can see why people would be angry over this proposed law, this would seriously harm all free speech and creativity online, when a site can be taken down over ‘alleged’ copyright infringement.
Also if a site goes down from mistaken identity then under this law they can not sue the copyright holders over lost revenue due to the wording of the legislation as rights holders can only be sued if they knowingly misrepresent their copyright rights.
Wikipedia made a very infamous protest last week when they went ‘offline’ for 24 hours in protest to this bill, Wikipedia would be one of the sites most at risk if this bill went through as of course the whole site is UGC.
One of the most worrying part of this bill is that people can even be guilty of breaking it simply for doing actions that make it difficult for the government to see whether or not you are breaking copyright infringment (punishing people for locking doors)
Now of course this was a US proposed law but I’m sure you can all see how this would affect us in the U.K how many sites from the US do you access daily that this could affect.
18th Slide History
On January 20th 2012 House Judiciary Committee Chairman Smith postponed plans to draft the SOPA bill seemingly putting an end to the need for protest from sites such as wikipedia right? SOPA’s dead? That’s not quite true.
There is a european equivelent that is being secretly pushed through known as ACTA, this is essentialy the european equivelent to SOPA and is currently being phased in across europe. And SOPA itself may be brought back after the US elections
I hope that you can all see the damage that these bills could cause. I have a link to petition against ACTA on my blog. Thank you and hope you enjoyed this presentation.