Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SOPA and PIPA are two online piracy acts currently being voted upon in Congress. Their purpose is to stop the spread of unlawful sharing of music, movies, and other types of media.
Like much legislation in our post-9/11 world, the government is endorsing this legislation as beneficial for the safety of all who use the Internet, and especially in protecting those companies involved in media.
The PATRIOT Act of the Internet, SOPA and PIPA would be a means of protection, supporters claim. This legislation would increase copyright protections and prevent piracy.
The Country Music Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are two supporters of the bills.
But Internet companies know better.
These acts are being sugar coated to make them sound beneficial for us. In truth they are only beneficial for the government.
In reality, SOPA and PIPA are online censorship laws. They would expand copyright laws of media companies, and hold Internet companies responsible for enforcing those copyrights. If not enforced, companies could be severely punished.
There are several problems to these laws:
1. Censorship is clearly contradictory to the idea of freedom of expression.
2. With more than 2.1 billion people using the Internet, it is impossible for Internet companies to be constantly be policing the World Wide Web looking for copyright infringements.
3. Even if they could police the Internet, our Internet companies should be working on making the World Wide Web a better place, not on catching bad guys.
4. SOPA and PIPA are fear-based legislation that makes it seem that piracy occurs all the time. We must remember, the world is a safe place and most people respect each other.
If SOPA and PIPA were to pass in Congress, the Internet would become ruled by the government. Strict censorship would be in place to prevent copyright laws. Companies would have no time to contribute value to the Web, as they would have to be constantly on the watch for people who were breaking the law. The Internet would, essentially, turn into a fascist police state.
This is clearly not in accordance with the democratic freedoms we believe so strongly in.
Democracies encourage everybody to share their opinion. With SOPA andPIPA, the government will choose who gets to say what.
Democracies are operated by trust. They give everybody the freedom to do what they want, when they want to do it. The government, in this police state, operates out of fear.
Just as with education, nothing good can come from allowing the government to control our Internet. I too, protest the SOPA and PIPA legislation and hope you will with me.
Liz Witbeck is an author, educator, and entrepreneur. She is interested in spreading democracy to our lives and our schools.


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