By Diana Abou-Saleh
Sports & Managing Editor
It is frightening to think a simple, yet harmless habit such as copy and paste could be punishable by law. According to www.laurenmacewen.com, a technology blog site, a person could have been two clicks away from at least five years in prison, had the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act passed through the U.S. Congress.
On Jan. 18, Wikipedia blacked out its site for 24 hours to protest and inform users of the controversial SOPA and PROTECT IP Acts being debated in Congress. Google joined Wikipedia in protest by covering its logo with a black box.
Facebook feeds were full of posts and comments reading, “Say no to SOPA,” or “Freedom of Speech NOW.”
As reported by several news sources, SOPA was a piece of legislation that targeted a much more general aspect of online piracy.
PIPA targeted companies that committed or facilitated piracy. House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar S. Smith, R-Texas, proposed the SOPA bill with the purpose of censoring areas of the Internet; PIPA was sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
According to the Wall Street Journal and CNN, if both bills were passed, the Internet would undergo changes blocking foreign sites and constant monitoring of links on web pages.
The entertainment industry spent $104.6 million to lobby in favor of SOPA and PIPA, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Online piracy and copyright infringement are wrong, but threatening the freedom of the Internet to protect the interests of a few companies is by no means acceptable.
These companies supported SOPA and PIPA because only one thing matters to them: profit. They did not consider the long-term effect the proposals could have had on the American people.
To some extent, SOPA and PIPA proved the U.S. is gradually turning away from capitalism, an economic system in which competition is supposed to reign. Some industries in the U.S. no longer want to be in an environment of competition. Instead, with the use of money, corporations try to eliminate or shut down any company that can seem competitive. In this case, those companies were foreign websites using pirated material.
Fortunately, as of Jan. 20, SOPA and PIPA are no longer on Congress’ agenda.
One positive result of SOPA and PIPA was the Internet’s uprising, with giants of the industry including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter enabling Internet users to partake in the massive protest.
Internet activists circulated a petition for individuals to sign and send to their representatives in Congress.
The overall feeling toward the pieces of legislation was summed up by a trending topic on Twitter during the protest: “#nomegustalaSOPA .”