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What Is SOPA?

What Is SOPA, and What Does It Mean For You?

The Internet is abuzz today regarding SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, that is making its way through congress. This act may be seen as a well-intentioned copyright bill that can take down sites that host pirated content, but when you dig deeper, sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others could be subject to its regulations. Essentially, the US government and entertainment companies — like Warner Bros. or Sony Music for example — would be allowed to censor sites that "engage in, enable or facilitate" copyright infringement.

Companies would have to submit a claim that a website is infringing on its copyrights, then the website in question would have five days to comply with the takedown, or issue an appeal before power is given to the attorney general to cut off a site's domain, listing in search engines, advertisers, and payment processors, essentially blacklisting them from the Internet.

Why It Should Matter to You

Lobbyists for the bill say that SOPA will be used to stop "rogue sites" from seeding pirated content around the web, but essentially, any website that hosts, links to, or posts pirate-friendly content can be shut down. Embed a lip dub of a Lady Gaga song from YouTube, or post a copyrighted image on your Tumblr? You're also at risk. Heck, YouTube would probably be censored in a matter of minutes if this bill goes through.


Why SOPA Is Flawed

Proponents of SOPA say that this will help decrease pirated content from around the web by blocking domain names so users can't get to the site. However, you can still access the site if you know the IP address. So really, this bill won't do anything to stop pirates, "rogue sites," or anyone else from pirating content or accessing sites that are blocked. Basically, it's a legal way for the entertainment industry to bully websites by blacklisting them and taking away their streams of income (if they use advertisers or payment processors). Twitter, Google, and Mozilla have already spoken out about the bill, which could affect them in big ways if SOPA goes through.

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
Akasha Akasha 5 years
I am not a huge corporation I am feature film crew member. I don't shmooze with celebs at $1000 dinners I work 16-20 hour days and still barely make ends meet most months and the theft of films is making that harder and harder. My very livelihood and medical insurance is based on people not STEALING movies from illegal websites. When a movie is illegally downloaded the studio doesn't have to pay residuals to the crew members who's retirement and medical benefits depend on it. The studio isn't getting hurt as much as the regular Joe. And this bill is the result of those 99% going after that 1%. Yes I believe the bill is taking it to an extreme. I don't think lip syncing Lady Gaga fans should be punished. But in that same vein should I be allowed to walk into your house and take your tv because I don't feel like paying for one of my own. Because that is exactly what stealing films and music is doing to the "other" people who work on them. Not the studios, not the million dollar paycheck directors, actors, musicians, THE CREW. I find it fascinating that the people who are complaining about their rights being violated are the same people who are completely comfortable violating the rights of others. The same people who feel it's their right to STEAL from hardworking people. Does this bill sound scary? it doesn't even just sound scary it is effin' scary. Just about as scary as working 20 hour days for a CRIMINAL to steal money from my pocket. Can this bill be used by the government to censor certain sites? Yes it absolutely can, and I'm appalled that stopping people from stealing has had to come to this extreme.
stylinfabqueen stylinfabqueen 5 years
I really this is madness... they should have done this when the internet was still new. The media folks should find another way to prevent pirates but at the same time if it wasn't for us (internet folk) they wouldn't have jobs. They should be grateful for all the lip-sync Lady Gaga singers.
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