How many of you are aware of the twin bills, “SOPA” (stopping-online-piracy-act) and “Protect-IP”?
Ok this is a more technical post but please take the time to read it, it concerns you and your internet access!
There is a hectic debate raging online, about whether SOPA can actually even destabilize the internet per se. IT engineers and experts seem to think so. Yet, the American gov continues pushing for this bill.
According to sources (which I’ll link to at my own risk below, LOL), SOPA (and Protect-IP) apparently specifies that
- host websites (e.g. blogsites, Facebook, Youtube) will now become liable if one of their users uploads copyright-infringing material. (I ask,how are they supposed to check every one of their millions of uploads?)
- This is in direct contravention of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
- Anyone accusing a website of containing infringing material can get the website blocked. That is, it won’t open to browsers anymore. The accuser does not have to prove anything; so if you call me an ass I can get you blocked by claiming that you infringed copyright somehow.
- Websites can be blocked for being accused of containing links to infringing material. Once again the accuser does not have to prove that the links point to infringing material; you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent.
- There are a few other aspects of the bill such as, that one can be locked in the clink for bypassing copy protection mechanisms. Fair, I agree with that one, with one reservation – a relative newbie to the internet, as I was e.g. four years back, can easily stumble across such programs and shady downloads without realizing what they are for. In such a case this would be equivalent to locking the girl into jail who has been slipped an e tablet into her drink without realizing it. Rather track down the manufacturers and shut them down – or is that too complicated?
Apparently the bill also specifies that its purpose for existence is “for stopping online piracy, and other purposes”.
What are those non-specified purposes? (One might worry if one were less trusting of governments all over the world. But I’m sure they won’t abuse it.)
Of course we’re all agreed that piracy (copyright infringement) is immoral and ought to be curtailed.
But this is not the way to do it.
- If someone copyrights the word “Help”, and I’m not aware of this, next thing I’m in jail for calling for help?
- How about nabbing the uploaders rather than the host websites? Sure, EPub Bud (and Facebook, and Youtube) has suffered from many users violating copyright and uploading copyrighted material. EPub is in fact a publisher’s nightmare, as they might just grab your ebooks and via some anonymous user, upload them for free, breaking your business (which is why paper books will never go out of fashion)… but still, shut down the Gutenberg Project, for risk that the Bible is not out of copyright yet?
Most of all concerning is apparently the way in which the Am. Gov. clings to its purported technological illiteracy. Come on. In an age where every child on the streets has a cellphone and is on Twitter? How can the people claiming to lead the nation, hold up ignorance like a badge? Can an emergency election be held to vote them out and vote in some more intellgent folk? Because I can just imagine how this must embarrass America… not that SA should feel superior re its “elite”…
My question is: If SOPA goes through and the internet is thusly censored by America… how long do the rest of us still have internet? If the whole net doesn’t just collapse as some predict.
This is serious. Please inform yourselves; and then come back and explain it to me because I can’t see through this one.