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SOPA opponents disregard laws already in place

»Ashlie Talley – atalley2@my.apsu.edu

Lately, there have been a lot of people talking about a new House bill is currently considering. The SOPA, or Stop Online Piracy Act, was designed to combat online piracy. The goal itself is not bad, but it’s met quite a bit of backlash for its vague undertones and broad definitions. In fact, people are protesting against the bill to get it turned down completely.

It seems people are using the flaws of the bill to cover the fact they don’t want to lose their online piracy freedoms, an unlawful privilege they’ve been abusing. While I do see the very large problems with SOPA, I do not believe the bill should be scrapped all together.

The bill should be revised to be clearer about the people, websites and material it is targeting.

There are big problems with SOPA. If one were to read the content of the act, which can be found at the Library of Congress website, they would notice its broad and vaguely defined content insinuates a great number of things that could potentially turn us all into criminals and give power to people who will most likely mistreat it.

It gives the government the power to decide which foreign websites they want us as US citizens to see. It also gives copyright holders the power to bring down major websites simply because they have the means to infringe copyrighted material (such as a comment box), and it also insinuates so much as posting oneself repeating popular phrases from movies or singing famous songs is a felony offense.

These provisions are not actual statements in the document, and hopefully not intentional, but are the many loopholes that can be found throughout the document.

Despite its problems, however, piracy is a huge issue that does need to be dealt with, and it is incredibly hard to stop. As the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act and our own common sense should tell us, piracy is illegal. It is the unauthorized reproduction or use of any patented, trademarked product.

According to an article on CNNmoney.com, the problem is that foreign based websites do not have to adhere to this law, and most websites offering pirated products are based in foreign countries. The U.S. can’t prosecute a foreign website for breaking American law.

These websites are not the only issue. Very few people in the U.S. actually obey copyright laws.

For whatever reason, the large majority of us seem to think we’re entitled to someone else’s ideas and creations for free. Apparently, these guys have made so much money off of their genius they are no longer allowed to control what happens to their own work.

The incredibly humorous thing about it is while people are excusing their behavior off on the wealthy owners of big corporations, they also happen to be stealing from the pockets of those less fortunate who work for those wealthy persons.

The bottom line is unless we made the product, we are not entitled to that product without compensation.

God forbid we have to pay one whole dollar for a song. Yes, the world will simply cease to rotate because there is no longer a free pass for our entertainment.

All that SOPA needs is a revision that more clearly defines the target of the bill and restrictions.

It also needs clearer explanations of what the government can and cannot label piracy or copyright infringement, and more responsibility to the person who is actually committing the act of copyright infringement as opposed to the site operator being fully liable.

And perhaps tack on a side note that requires sending notification to the operator of a site flagged for infringement.

If anyone were paying attention and taking the law seriously, they would notice piracy has been illegal for 14 years — copyright infringement long before that — and everyone has been ignoring the fact.

So when entertainment companies and the government get fed up with our behavior, what else is to be expected than an insanely over-the-top bill like SOPA?

This isn’t a simple case of one guy ruining it for everybody. Anyone who participates in piracy is responsible for the nature of this bill in my opinion, and the bill’s proponents. TAS

About Aaliyah Mitchell

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