By Jake Adams
On Jan. 18, if you didn’t know about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), by the end of the day you at least knew that it existed.
What it is, why it’s there and why it has caused so much fuss would have required some investigation, but not much. Type “what is SOPA” into Google and one is bombarded with every position, perspective and opinion possible and more.
“I find my current access to the internet very important. That’s where I get most of my music,” said Josh Hoskins, a Western Michigan University sophomore majoring in criminal justice, sociology and psychology.”
“I don’t know what it would do exactly, but I know that the government has a lot of power, and I’m not exactly for them getting more,” said Hoskins.
According to CNET News, the purpose of this bill is to make it harder for sites to sell or distribute pirated copyrighted material such as movies and music, as well as physical goods such as counterfeit purses and watches. But some think it does more than just that.
“I am against SOPA and PIPA because they restrict our freedom of expression,” said Shelby Smith, a WMU freshman majoring in anthropology.
Smith has a blog (let-us-shift-our-focus.tumblr.com) where she talks about media and political trends that affect those here and abroad. she blacked out her page for the day in protest of the act.
Wikipedia and Google also protested the potential law.
“I think the idea is good, we are just going about it the wrong way,” said Smith.
Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, also tweeted the other week that congress has to “need to find a better solution than SOPA.”
Although it may not be the best solution to copyright and piracy problems, it still has some validity.
“Rogue Web sites that steal America’s innovative and creative products attract more than 53 billion visits a year and threaten more than 19 million American jobs,” according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in a letter to the editor of The New York Times.
According to International Business Times SOPA and PIPA were both postponed due to the uproar.
PIPA (Protect IP Act) is the Senate’s attempt at tackling the problem of online piracy and copyright problems, but those opposed to the act said that it infringed on their first amendment rights.
SOPA, the House’s version of the bill, was accused of yet even more right infringements.
“The idea is the government can shut down any website they want because of user contributed information, not owner,” said Andrew Hazelton, a WMU senior majoring in criminal justice and sociology.
“So I upload some link to some website, instead of going after the person who uploaded it, they go after the website and shut it down. This is the major concern of big sites like Facebook and YouTube,” said Hazelton.
Although the legislation is shelved for now, there are those who expect to see it again.
“I feel like there’s a good chance that it will come into discussion, especially since piracy is becoming more of an issue, and the media world is getting ever larger,” said Hoskins.
“Right now we just have the two extremes; we don’t know what is actually in the programs (bill) because we just know what people have been telling us,” said Hazelton. “I’m tempted to print that bad boy out.”