Dark Space: Congress Vs The Internet
BY DEANDRE MCDAY, Staff Writer
The U.S. witnessed its first Internet strike Wednesday, as tech companies and users joined forces against the controversial Internet censorship bills that are PIPA and SOPA.
Many fear these bills will compromise first amendment rights, and stifle future innovation in cyberspace.
Introduced in May 2011, the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA) will give U.S. corporations and the government the right to take legal action upon anyone they feel is enabling copyright infringement, whether or not websites are foreign or domestic.
According to 1stwebdesigner.com, if PIPA is passed:
·Internet providers will be forced to block websites accused of copyright infringement.
·Anyone in connection to copyright infringement—be it search engines, blogs, directories, etc—are liable to be sued.
·Advertisers connected to websites deemed enablers of copyright infringement will be asked to sever their connection.
·Any new websites that aren’t doing a good enough job of preventing online piracy may be sued as well.
Introduced in October, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) serves as PIPA’s counterpart in the House of Representatives, and it’s just as lethal.
According to 1stwebdesigner.com, if SOPA is passed:
·The U.S. Attorney General can now seek a court order that will prevent search engines, advertisers, DNS providers, servers, and payment processors from having any contact with allegedly infringing websites.
·Private corporations will be able to compose their own personal list of websites they feel are breaking their copyright policies. They can then directly contact a website’s payment processor, and tell them to cut off payment involvement. They will have 5 days to act before the site is simply taken down.
·Payment processors will have the power to cut off any website they work with, as long as they can provide a strong reason why they feel the site is violating copyright laws.
In short, an Internet mafia is born, and patrons are subject to the whims of those who are put it charge (ironically, the elite).
Remember those days in high school when there was always that one kid selling candy for twice the retail price? Candy that sold at your local liquor store for 25 cents, is now being sold for 50 cents. That student is making a 50% profit off of each pack of candy sold.
For the sake of the analogy, the SOPA/PIPA laws will serve as the building blocks for a powerful blacklist in the candy world.
If this candy hustling trend persists for too long, and candy corporations catch wind that they’re losing money, they now have the right to contact their distributor and force them to track whoever is cutting corners.
The distributor finds the store selling the candy. The owner claims he doesn’t know who could be doing this. The solution?
“Find out who’s doing it, or else.”
Those are cold words to hear from your higher-ups. The owner of the liquor store finally tracks down the hustler. What happens next?
According to the laws provided, he or she is locked out of the system indefinitely. No…more…candy. In addition to that, they’re cut off from all friends. In addition to THAT, corporations can literally sue them for everything that they own.
(Copyright lawsuits aren’t cheap by a long shot. In 2009, a US jury ordered Jammie Thomas-Rasset of Minnesota to pay nearly 2 million dollars for illegally downloading 24 songs. That’s $80,000 per song!)
Since it’s inception in 1995, the Internet has been an open playground for all to see, use and enjoy, but it’s had very little regulation since, and users have had very little protection. Instead of providing a more balance approached, the twin piracy bills serve as the architects that will transform the Internet from a wide, open expanse…to an extremely strict, gated community.
Since the blackout Wednesday, the bills have been shelved, but are sure to make a second appearance soon.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Sound off below, contact your local legislator and join the conversation.