Recently, Claudia Costa posted a video about the Protect IP and SOPA acts that have been circulating around in cyberspace as well as within the United States Congress. Here is her video:
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), if passed, 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 requests the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators, such as PayPal, 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 felony. 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 (Wikipedia).
The Protect IP Act (PIPA), similarly, is a proposed law with the stated goal of giving the US government and copyright holders additional tools to curb access to 'rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods", especially those registered outside the U.S (Wikipedia).
While these acts are nothing new, the reality that they may actually be implemented has frightened many people and sparked international debates. It has even caused many websites, including Wikipedia and Reddit, to do a 'blackout' as a form of protest.
If SOPA and PIPA are instated, it will mean big changes for everyone. There is even some speculation going on that journalists will be the ones to take one of the biggest blows. In an article posted on Media Bistro it is pointed out that SOPA could potentially censor journalists articles, that multimedia and citizen journalism would suffer and that innovation would be stifled.
Despite all of these facts, there are several major companies who are supporting SOPA and PIPA.
So, it all boils down to one question: should the Protect IP and Stop Online Piracy Acts be enforced or should they be shut down immediately?
I am curious to see what you as journalists, bloggers and media professionals have to say as this could potentially profoundly affect you all. Do you agree with these acts? Or has the US finally gone too far? Would you suggest an alternative that could take the place of these acts?
I look forward to hearing from you!
Definitely they are going too far. It shows also the measure of Washington's hypocrisy in what regards the freedom of expression. Obviously, they are trying to control and restrict the free flow of information and the right of people to exchange freely and unrestricted information, not necessarily films or music, but also, books, news stories, reviews, so on. There's a basic rule in journalism saying that once an information is released in the public space (no matter its form, written, audio or video), anyone can disseminate it with one condition: to quote the original source. Now, The USA, otherwise a staunch advocate of internet freedom in... China (from where Google was kicked out) wants to re-write the rules and to impose to the worldwide web the American legislation. It is going against the very principle of the internet which was created as the free information highway. It would be another major setback for the freedom of expression and democracy.
Highly recommended article on SOPA from Paulo Coelho:
It is a shame, that the US, the country that has the "Statue of Liberty" as a symbol, is becoming so paranoic in trying to control our lives. It is obvious, that a mixture of ignorance in relation to the limits that the US power can exercise, is one of the reasons why these laws have been introduced. It is also a consequence of the worldwide discussion in previous and recent years that WIKILEAKS has provoqued and unfortunatelly, there was not enough support from the Media and legal community to help Julien Assange in his battle against the US. Althought some kind of miraculous action of the Swedish Justice has prevailed to put that man in an embarassed and not yet, well explained situation. One cannot forget that WIKILEAKS has helped the world to wake up and put the Media and Media professionals back in the spotlights. It also brought up the issue of the freedom of Internet and our rights to share and to have access to information!
All in all, it seems that the US has forgotten that the INTERNET is " the common heritage of mankind" and also, that it is no longer a property of the United States. Such laws that limit and affect the access to information in other countries, where the USA has no jurisdiction, is not only a big and agressive JOKE, it is also a disrespect to other nations.
Even if these laws are approved in the US, there will be an international conflict and I really hope we all get involved in this discussion.
Whether we are dealing with the ignorance of the US in relation to their geographic limits, their Imperialistic mentality or simply DICTATORIAL mentality then we should ask ourselves what is the US doing in Iraq or Afghanistan, if they can't respect the most essential freedom of the Internet?
Please, let's think together, let's do something about it!
Thank you Hanna, thank you Costa, thank you all of you, for bringing up these issues!
The mainstream media doesn't support WikiLeaks despite using it for the biggest scoops in the history of journalism, because it is controlled by trusts that always serve the interests of the mighty ones. Anyone with a clear mind can see the difference between the US speech and the facts, while publicly supporting internet freedom, they secretly introduce legislation to control it. Support whistle blowers and dissidents in countries such as Iran, Syria, China, so on while striving to fry Julian Assange for exposing crimes and illegal deals at global level. The same goes for Bradley Manning, who if he had lived some 40 yrs ago in USSR could have been the biggest dissident of all times. It's crystal-clear and I don't know how longer this illusion of a democratic America might go on.
Thank you all for your responses. Indeed, it is a frightening reality to think that someday our Internet may be so censored that we no longer even have the freedom to choose what we read. Luckily, for now anyway, SOPA has been put on the shelf due to the amount of protest it has received. There is speculation that it will be revived again by Lamar Smith, the author of the act, in February however, but rest assured most people will not accept it without having fought their hardest against it. Recent news has actually alluded to an alternative to SOPA, which would protect copyright claims but not go as far as to shut down videos of someone's little brother singing Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" on YouTube. The alternative that has been posed is called OPEN i.e. the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, which has the support of Google and Facebook because it contains exceptions for websites that remove pirated content in a reasonable time. This exemption would allow YouTube, Facebook and many other websites to remain unmolested. Let's keep our fingers crossed that something like this takes precedent over SOPA.
SOPA update. While everything may have died down for now, it looks like things won't stay like this for long. Read: 'The Battle Against SOPA is Far From Over'.
I have uploaded a document on Human Rights and the Media about the anti-piracy laws.
The situation in Europe is even worse than that of the US.
At least in the US, Hollywood artists and producers are activelly involved. Here in the EU, I haven't
seen a mobilization of artists and Journalists yet.
Hope the situation will change soon and before June 2012, we have been able to express our views and act!
Thanks! I hope the situation changes too, otherwise it will be a very different Internet that we will be looking at.
As if the SOPA Act, PIPA, etc, weren’t enough to give all of us sleepless nights, sadly, I have recently found out that the threat was already a reality in Europe. At the EU page (http://ec.europa.eu/malta/news/25.01.2012_data_protection_en.htm), the EU Commission announced ACTA (a very similar law to the SOPA ACT) in a quite naïf euphoria that doesn’t resonate with the fear that most Internet users are experiencing right now, which conflicts with EU and international human rights laws that, proclaimed that people should have freedom of fear:
“A single law will do away with the current fragmentation and costly administrative burdens, leading to savings for businesses of around €2.3 billion a year. The initiative will help reinforce consumer confidence in online services, providing a much needed boost to growth, jobs and innovation in Europe.” (http://ec.europa.eu/malta/news/25.01.2012_data_protection_en.htm).
The announcement, sounds as if it was written by a desperate Ad-man or a poor PR or Marketing company, that exaggerates the benefits of an event, products and services to attract innocent consumers:
“Brussels, 25 January 2012 – The European Commission has today proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU's 1995 data protection rules to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe's digital economy.” (http://ec.europa.eu/malta/news/25.01.2012_data_protection_en.htm).
It is a bit strange and suspicious that the Commission mentions “privacy rights” and the necessity to protect individuals and consumers, when we all know that, we ordinary people are about to lose all our privacy as the legislators will allow a break into our consumer habits in order to enforce such law. Furthermore, it is misleading to put it like that, when we all know, there has been quite a war between powerful industries against consumers that download movies and music online. It sounds very ironic, when we all know that behind ACTA there are big corporations from the Music industry, Hollywood, other Movie industries from Europe and abroad, and other tycoons. The EU article further added that it will reinforce consumer’s confidence in online services, and provide a boost to grow jobs and innovation.
Well, should we passively accept ACTA? You guys there in Brussels, should we organize a meeting to talk about it? Would you invite the public to discuss it? We want to have a referendum. We want to vote!
P.S.: Feel free to read and download the whole article at http://www.wix.com/vandecraatsuk/hrights page 10