The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

SOPA and PIPA not popular, but needed

“It’s no longer OK to NOT know how the internet works,” reads an anti– Protect IP Act and Stop Online Piracy Act banner, held proudly in a New York City protest on Jan. 18 against the controversial bills presented to the Senate and House in 2011.

The introduction of this legislation in Congress has not only sparked outrage amongst freedom of speech advocates, but also from the internet media gang, namely Wikipedia, Twitter and Google.

Who would have thought that a well-intentioned bill dedicated to combating foreign piracy sites would have led to an exploration of domestic First Amendment rights, Internet censorship and democracy?

The legislation and ideals of SOPA and PIPA are a sensitive topic. As with any typical debate, there are pros and cons.

“The potential (to restrict the First Amendment right) is there,” said Robert Whitnell, former chair of computing and information technology and current professor and chair of the chemistry department. “It becomes a matter where, even without the explicit violation of the First Amendment by the government, the chilling effect can lead to people choosing not to exercise their right for fear of what may happen.”

A group of anti-SOPA organizers in Manhattan shouted to the crowd, “What does democracy look like?”

“This is what democracy looks like,” the crowd zealously responded, reported TechCentral.

While I do agree that the bills may cause unintended consequences in limiting an individual’s freedom to knowledge and unlimited access to the cyber world, I strongly believe that the main messages and intentions of SOPA and PIPA are undoubtedly vital in our society, more so now than ever.

It’s no secret that we, and many of our peers, download songs, movies or episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” through illegal means. At a time when the Internet continues to grow and piracy sites are easily accessible, why should we bother to give our hard-earned penny to the Hollywood moguls when their works are up for grabs on the World Wide Web?

Unfortunately, that’s the mindset that many of us have. We live in the modern world where expedience and convenience outweigh the morality of our actions.

“Illegal conduct is not free speech,” said Chris Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, to CNN. “Illegal conduct is what it is. It’s stealing.”

Although the proponents of SOPA and PIPA continually voice their positive views of the legislation, over the months, the popularity of the acts has plummeted with the help of powerful adversaries.

Google featured a special doodle of SOPA and PIPA by drawing a black censorship bar on their “Google” logo.

Wikipedia joined the opposition, blacking out the English-language Wikipedia site for a day.

A group known as “Anonymous” hacked into personal accounts of several advocates of the bills. A tweet from Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s twitter account said, “Dear Iowans, vote against ACTA, SOPA, and PIPA, because this man, Chuck Grassley, wants YOUR internet censored and all of that BS,” according to ABC News.

Additionally, the twitter account of Dana White, Ultimate Fighting Championship President, was hacked when he continued to defend his company’s support of SOPA, according to CNN News.

Sure, it’s completely normal for anyone to be apprehensive of the Internet’s future if SOPA and PIPA are passed, but it’s not normal for protestors to oppose these bills through extremist means of hacking and even self-censorship, as in the case of Wikipedia’s blackout.

While the Anonymous group tries to portray their actions in a positive and heroic light in favor of protecting the public, their self-described efforts suggest a rather threatening demeanor towards anyone who dare to oppose them: “We are anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us!”

The opponents of SOPA and PIPA are damaging their own cause through their actions. If you disagree with these bills, voice your opinions loud and clear without forcibly shutting out others.

If I were you, I wouldn’t be afraid of these bills. I’d be afraid of SOPA’s hypocritical opponents.

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  • S

    sawsenFeb 14, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Great atlrcie about the topic. Like you mentioned, it’s really sad to see this sort of thing even considered these days.

    • S

      Samir HazbounFeb 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      I’m confused. Are you saying that it’s sad SOPA and PIPA are being considered?

  • S

    Samir HazbounFeb 6, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    “If I were you, I wouldn’t be afraid of these bills. I’d be afraid of SOPA’s hypocritical opponents.”

    This article is missing the major point of why people are upset about SOPA and PIPA (not to mention the much scarier ACTA). It’s the same reason people are up in arms about the NDAA. These bills are using a huge sweeping brush that serves as more of a blanket clause than anything else.

    You should give an example of what SOPA and PIPA and ACTA would require websites we use everyday to conform to. It makes it much more relatable.

    For example take YouTube. Thousands of videos are uploaded every hour to YouTube. A small fraction of those videos contain copyrighted material. If Warner Bros. doesn’t want something of theirs on YouTube the way things currently it is the companies responsibility to request that YouTube pull the video. ACTA, SOPA, and PIPA would place the responsibility on YouTube for making sure no copyrighted material was uploaded in the first place. This means that YouTube is legally responsible for whatever is uploaded meaning they have to sift through THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of videos more than any human could possibly have time to watch and make sure that no content with any copyright violations makes it through. Should one make it through the FBI would be legally mandated to take down the offending website.

    That’s a pretty insane and unfeasible request and the government and corporate sponsors (I’m looking at you Entertainment Industry) of this bill know it.

    Stop falling for the smoke and mirrors used by politicians. It’s not about piracy or child pornography (the new version of SOPA and PIPA is called SOCP which stands for the Stop Online Child Pornography).

    The reason they want this bill to pass is this:

    “There are 6 major companies that control ABOUT 90% of what we see, hear, and read on TV, radio, and in print. They don’t control the internet……yet. But boy, do they want to control it. THAT is what this fight is about.” -opie2

    If I were you, I would be afraid of these bills. I’d be afraid of the NDAA. I’d be afraid of ACTA. And I’d do something about it.