The federal Stop Online Piracy Act has caused quite the political uproar recently.
SOPA was introduced by Sen. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, on Oct. 26 and has been a source of controversy ever since.
Probably because it is a horrible idea.
SOPA is intended to expand the U.S. government’s ability to fight online trafficking of copyrighted intellectual property and unauthorized streaming of copyrighted material.
In regular people-speak, SOPA would essentially give the government the ability to censor the Internet.
Web censorship is the beginning of the end, my friends. It would not only be a blatant violation of the First Amendment, but would threaten innovation and drastically change the world.
The maximum penalty for “pirating” a single song would be five years in prison. To put that into perspective, Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted for the involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson, was only sent to prison for four years.
Many Internet fat cats, such as Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia, have voiced their opposition to SOPA, calling it the “Internet Blacklist Bill.”
The New York Times referred to it as the “Great Firewall of America.”
In an effort to show how SOPA would affect the Net, Wikipedia blacked out all of its pages for 24 hours on Jan. 18.
Instead of being taken to a page containing a plethora of information on Britney Spears or black holes, users were redirected to a page protesting SOPA.
During the blackout, more than 160 million users were unable to use the public encyclopedia, showing just how important Wikipedia actually is to the American people.
Regardless of whether Wikipedia is viewed as a credible reference source, it would be missed if forced to close.
It’s hard to believe there are actually companies that support SOPA. It’s as though, instead of reading the fine print, they stopped reading at “we’re trying to stop people from stealing your stuff.”
In the short term and in general, SOPA is an excellent idea because the founding fathers were obviously unable to foresee the invention of the World Wide Web. However, SOPA completely surpasses the line that laws shouldn’t cross: personal freedom.
After all the controversy caused by the bill, Congress tabled the proposal.
Luckily for America, President Obama is on our side. On Jan. 14, he finally spoke out against the bill and encouraged less restrictive and controversial legislation.