Over the past few weeks, the Internet has exploded with furious users. In one of the most amazing shows of the Internet community coming together, businesses across the United States have blogged, tweeted and even blacked out their websites with the single goal of stopping the bill SOPA.
People like Matt Cutts, Jimmy Wales and Craig Newark worked together to influence members of Congress enough that the bill was shelved earlier this week. However, Congress brought it back, and it is set to be voted on next week. Many business websites have publicly opposed this bill together, by organizing a blackout on January 18.
But while many businesses fight back against this bill, several others wonder—what exactly is SOPA? Not everyone has been a part of this revolution, so it’s understandable that a lot of people got left in the dark on the subject.
What is SOPA?
SOPA stands for “Stop Online Piracy Act,” and is a bill that was introduced in late 2011. Wikipedia summarizes the details quite well, and we’ve included an excerpt here:
The originally proposed bill 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 makes the request, the court order 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 crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 10 such infringements within six months. The bill would also give immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement. This would make copyright holders liable for damages, when they knowingly misrepresent that a website is dedicated to infringement.
Although Wikipedia is against SOPA, they provide a pretty fair representation of what it is. It’s a bill that could stifle free speech on the Internet, potentially censoring business websites that host content. It has good qualities, of course, as any bill would; supporters remind us that it will protect global intellectual property, and say that it’s needed in order to enforce copyright infringement on the Internet worldwide.
Smart Solutions’ Stance on SOPA
At this time, Smart Solutions does not support the SOPA bill in its current form, for the same reason that Internet professionals across the world don’t—it eliminates free speech on the Internet, and goes completely against the reason that the Internet was created in the first place.
Google has played a big part in this movement, and you can help them by signing their petition.
What are your thoughts on SOPA? Let us know in the comments!