If SOPA is Passed, You’d Be Considered A Criminal
If the bill is passed it will allow the government to put the average OnlineJoe or online business owner behind bars for the “unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content,” resulting in a “maximum penalty of five years in prison.”
To answer your question, yes the bills implications would make just about everyone’s online interactions illegal: sharing a video via twitter, parodying a Bieber song and uploading it to YouTube, having a user comment on your blog and posting a link to a pirated video clip; these are all fair grounds to put you behind bars or shut down your online entities.
Websites that host comments or share links of illegal content could have their domain shut-down, without questioning. No longer can owners of websites look to the legal right and principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” Instead your website will be shut down immediately only to be allowed back online after review.
For companies that have online components or exist solely online, SOPA could set back their progress and finances significantly, as they lose out on business inquiries and transactions during their time of off-line review. For bloggers that mean they risk tarnishing their relationship with readers by not being able to offer the continuous new content readers rely on.
We Won’t Go Down Without A Fight
Al Gore was quick to speak out against SOPA citing that the bill “would very probably have the effect of really shutting down the vibrancy of the Internet.” And Tech giants Google, Amazon, Ebay, and Yahoo weren’t far behind, coming out and announcing a proposed black-out day, a shut-down of their sites to raise awareness of their opposition to the bill. The black-out too place January 18.
In addition Facebook, Google and Zynga sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives citing that the bill would “pose a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as our nation’s cybersecurtiy.”
Since, the Obama Administration has openly condemned SOPA and congress has shelved the controversial bill. But, our fight for freedom does not end there, because an equally unattractive SOPA sister-bill that proposes more or less the same laws has been presented to congress. The PROTECT IP ACT (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 or PIPA for short) currently holds a congressional status that could potentially result in its approval.
Fortunately, the Obama Administration disapproves of the design and implications of PIPA just as much as they did of SOPA: “Let us be clear – online piracy is a real problem that harms the American economy, threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle-class workers and hurts some of our nation’s most creative and innovative companies and entrepreneurs,” said the White House in an official response to PIPA.
What Can You Do?
Thief’s and criminals will always exist. And as it should the government has the responsibility and freedom to put in place legislation with hopes that its laws will eliminate crime. But if such legislation inhibits the livelihood of righteous social platforms that support our economy and enable our well-being then those laws need to be reassessed and altered to ensure they don’t compromise our freedoms.
The threat of SOPA and PIPA should not be taken lightly. There are politicians who very seriously want to see legislations like SOPA and PIPA be taken into effect. There is nothing inherently evil with the goals of such laws, but until we can be clear that they they don’t impede on our Internet freedoms then we should consider their existence as a threat to everybody from well-intentioned business people to a child sharing a Britney Spears cover song with a friend on Facebook.