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A Petition to Stop SOPA Tests the Internet’s Power to Save Itself

   /   Dec 12th, 2011News

If passed, SOPA would increase the government and culture industries' power to shut down websites for copyright infringement

All over Reddit, Twitter, and various blogs, the armies are gearing up to defend themselves against an encroaching enemy: the government.

And their greatest weapon is, ultimately, themselves. As a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, gets ready to go to the Senate on December 15th (it passed the House recently) the Internet world has voiced anxiety that the legislation will restrict Internet freedom–and they have started an online petition that may stop SOPA in its tracks. There is particular concern that SOPA will limit usage of sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter (now, that got your attention, didn’t it).

The bill was introduced in the House in October by Republican Representative Lamar Smith, from Texas. If passed, SOPA would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to combat online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. What does that mean?  Under SOPA, the government can force a site to shut down with no more than a notice from a copyright or trademark owner who alleges that a single page of the site “enables or facilitates” illegal activity — like copyright infringement — by third parties. SOPA would also allow the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders to seek court orders requiring online advertising networks, payment processors and related entities to cease payments to websites and web-based services accused of copyright infringement.

So far, Reddit reports that over 900,000 people have signed an online petition asking Congress not to sign the SOPA bill. MoveOn has also lent support to the petition. Anti-SOPA people call it the “Internet blacklist bill,” and say that it will allow the music and television industries to shut down the aforementioned sites. The bill also includes a provision that would make it a felony to stream unlicensed content, like videos from YouTube.

The signatures in the anti-SOPA petition will serve as a filibuster, read out loud, name-by-name, by Senator Wyden (D-Ore), when the bill is presented for the Senate vote this week. This may be the first case where Internet activism is being taken up so directly in a Congressional vote. Wyden’s main argument is that the bill would actually make the Internet less secure, because government intervention disrupts, for example, the Domain Name System, and has an overall “effect on the net’s structure.” If the bill passes, he says, we may be headed toward a future where only people who can afford a lawyer will be able to create a website. Wyden is also speaking out against a similar act that restricts Internet usage, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), which would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders that will require Internet service providers to shut down websites accused of copyright infringement. This may post a threat to personal blogs as well as content-sharing sites like YouTube or Hulu.

Blogging on Forbes, Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, said that SOPA “would fundamentally alter the way in which the Internet operates by killing the very innovations, wealth and jobs that have made it the indispensable tool of the our era.” When it comes down to it, SOPA represents the will of the music, television, and other cultural production industries to win the battle of intellectual property. In 2000, lawsuits were brought against Napster for copyright infringement, and it was eventually left with no choice but to declare bankruptcy, ending the brief era of free music downloads. The case of SOPA bears some similarities to that of Napster–but it would have much wider implications beyond downloading files. That’s why it’s sparked so much anxiety, and why it will be interesting to see whether the filibuster is effective in the Senate on the 15th. Reading more than 900,000 names out loud should, if anything, give our Senators time to think carefully about their votes.

26 Responses

  1. Mary Lambert says:

    Um, looks like you got it backwards.

    Change.org is petitioning to SUPPORT the SOPA bill, not stop it. See here is their petition, with like 52,000 signers (so you know they must be pushing that petition pretty hard):

    http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-congress-protect-americas-creative-products-and-jobs.

    That other forlorn petition has almost no signers so it’s probably not being pushed at all by the people who run Change.org.

    • demented says:

      I wonder how many sock puppets signed that petition.

      • Ariandynas says:

        More than likely, none. You should sign too, that’s assuming you’re not a Hollywood sock puppet.

      • Ariandynas says:

        Whoops, sorry thought you were talking about the anti-SOPA petition there. Sorry about the mix up.

    • Ariandynas says:

      Actually you are the one who is confused, as even a cursory Google search will show, there is FAR more action AGAINST SOPA than there is for it.

      • Victoria says:

        I think that it is the parents job to censor the bad websites… not the government. If they shut down Facebook then they are taking our freedom of speech. If parents don’t want certain things being censored on the internet then it is their job to make that choice. If they don’t want their kids getting on a certain website then it is their job to block that website on the kids’ computer or profile on the computer. And if they don’t… then they get to answer any questions that the kids have. I think that whatever the kids don’t find out on the internet, they will hear or see it from someplace else. What are they going to so? Censer the TV, Radio, or even what people say? The internet if fine, people don’t just use it for bad stuff. Like facebook, yes people say stuff that mabey shouldn’t be said, but that is where our freedom of speech comes in. The government shouldn’t be able to take something away that we say or do… it is illogical. If they censor the internet… they will be just as miserable as anyone else… they use the internet just like anyone else.

    • Victoria says:

      If that is true… then all the websites that shut down for 24 hous were doing it for the wrong reason. They all thought it was to stop the SOPA bill. and people have been signing that petition were to support the SOPA bill… oops for all those people

    • Victoria says:

      That means that there are two petitions… one to support and one to stop

  2. Rachel Signer says:

    Thank you very much for that important correction.

  3. [...] is the original post: A Petition to Stop SOPA Tests the Internet's Power to Save Itself … Be Sociable, Share! Tweet This entry was posted in Internet & Telecom and tagged [...]

  4. [...] A Petition to Stop SOPA Tests the Internet's Power to Save Itself Posted on December 15, 2011 by admin A Petition to Stop SOPA Tests the Internet's Power to Save Itself As a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, gets ready to go to the Senate on December 15th (it passed the House recently) the Internet world has voiced anxiety that the legislation will restrict Internet freedom–and they have started an … Read more on Dowser [...]

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am someone who is not very involved in this and was informed by a classmate.
    From reading multiple sources it seams to me that this is not fair especially after it has been pointed out to me that the original programmers of the sharing software are the ones persecuting the general public.
    I also think that it is unfair that the bill is being informed even though it has not been officially passed.
    I think this deplates the whole point of the internet and copyright because:
    I believe that internet was made as a learning tool, a social network, and a place to have fun; if the rule is passed than it will not be as fun or a very social place, and people will not feel safe.
    I, also believe that copyright is there to protect the creator of a idea from economical loss and that by passing this bill you are not economically helping anyone accept for big companies.
    As a final thought I think that in a time of hardship, worries, economical crisis, and political/actual war people should try to help each other not hurt each other and make life easier for people and make a general peace.
    Happy Holidays!
    I am a 7th grader.

  6. vera says:

    Petitions. Jeez. Since when have petitions stopped anything?

  7. Marcus says:

    I want all to look at this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJIuYgIvKsc

    You want the net to be free, you keep SOPA from being passed.

  8. Robert says:

    SOPA must NOT pass! This country needs freedom.

  9. Barbara Jean says:

    Can’t you leave well-enough alone? Y’all suck the very life out of everything anyone enjoys.

    • Victoria says:

      Barbara and anyone else reading this, just because the government says something doesn’t make it right or good. Y’all need to wake up adn listen to what Obama said. He said a whole bunch of crap like how he was going to bring every soldier home and no more deployments. And where are all the soldiers? Over seas being deployed! What I mean is that once y’all learn that the government doesn’t know everything, the better all of our lives will be.

  10. [...] more info, read my article about SOPA & PIPA on Dowser. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  11. alyssa hogan says:

    This is a real problem that can limit education. locking something people feel or say is a problem. It limits a persons freedoms, and maybe even your own. WE NEED OUR FREEDOM. If you don’t want freedom then before you make up you mind look at other places in the world. Taking away your freedom and this is the first step to it. Don’t let the SOPA pass.

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