Yesterday, Wikipedia.org, a very known online encyclopedia, free and open for every one to use, downed their site for 24 hours in protest against a new bill being brewed in US Congress known as SOPA or Stop Online Piracy Act and also known as House Bill 3261 or H.R. 3261.
The bill, if made law, would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Presented to the House Judiciary Committee, it builds on the similar PRO-IP Act of 2008 and the corresponding Senate bill, the PROTECT IP Act.
The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who makes the request, the court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten such infringements within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.
Proponents of the bill say it protects the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws, especially against foreign websites. They cite examples such as Google’s $500 million settlement with the Department of Justice for its role in a scheme to target U.S. consumers with ads to illegally import prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies.
Opponents say that it violates the First Amendment, is Internet censorship, will cripple the Internet, and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech actions. Opponents have initiated a number of protest actions, including petition drives, boycotts of companies that support the legislation, and planned service blackouts by English Wikipedia and major Internet companies scheduled to coincide with the next Congressional hearing on the matter.
The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on November 16 and December 15, 2011. The Committee was scheduled to continue debate in January 2012, but on January 17 Chairman Smith said that “Due to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.” – Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act.
Many would think, what had to do with me and/or other internet users who are at the other side of the globe? Maybe as of this moment, after that bill became a law if it will become a law, at first, it will affect no one. But as time goes by, it will surely affect us all. Because for sure, our intelligent legislators in this country will try to enact that same law to control the web. And in the end, we netizens are at end point affected. Aside that it will, one way or the other, will harm blog sites and social networking sites. This will also kill the so-called “Open Source” and its supports. And can be used to approve censorship in the internet.
So for me, It’s a BIG NO! And I will support their cause against this SOPA bill.