Why PIPA and SOPA Have the Potential to Abuse Reputable Online Businesses
If you are unaware of these two terms, then it is about time to get acquainted with them because sooner or later they may affect you. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) are anti-piracy bills being evaluated and considered by the US congress. The two bodies within the US Congress considering the bills are The House of Representatives and the Senate with the former evaluating SOPA and the latter evaluating PIPA.
Why PIPA and SOPA Have the Potential to Abuse Reputable Online Businesses?
The video below explains why these bills could create more confusion than clarity and how they could damage perfectly legal websites.
If these bills are passed, the U.S Department of Justice will have the authority to pass orders and shut down sites that are promoting copyright infringement. The problem is a website could easily face the threat of an order passed against it since it is not easy to define an “intellectual copyright” and “online piracy”. Such bills at the end may not promote free expression and may damage the vibrant online community.
Critics of the bills claim that there is a lot of potential for abuse because there are many websites that promote and allow users to post contents and a simple thing such as posting songs or video could be viewed as copyright infringement. Those opposing SOPA and PIPA claim that the clauses in the bills could cause problems for a lot of websites and not necessarily contribute towards eliminating piracy.
In fact, it appears that these bills may have a different result from what is expected or expressed by those who wish to introduce them. The bills intend to fight online piracy websites most of which are operated and hosted outside the United States where American laws do not apply.
How Could SOPA Affect A Website?
- If your website falls victim to SOPA, no one will be able to access your website as it will be disabled right from the root DNS level.
- The order that could be passed against a site could include payment companies such as PayPal to eliminate any business with the website in question.
- The site could also be blocked from ISPs and search engines may be forced to remove the website content from their search results.
- Advertising companies may have to remove those companies violating copyright infringement from their company accounts.
- SOPA and PIPA also make it illegal to provide any information to internet users on how to access the blocked sites.
Popular websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube could face legal issues if any such content is found posted on them. ISPs and hosting companies may be forced to block out Social Media websites if a US court finds credible proof of copyright infringement or piracy against them.
What Can SOPA Do To Internet Users?
If these bills are passed, the effects on individual users will be huge. You could find yourself facing the shutdown of your Facebook or Twitter accounts if you do something ordinary such as posting a YouTube video link.
Everyday internet activity such as publishing a cover of a song you performed could result in the record label owning the song to take legal action against you to make you either take the video off or shut down your site completely.
Even for blogs, any content borrowed from any other site could result in a lawsuit – in fact even comments posted by visitors in such blogs will need to be monitored because any reference links to articles, pictures and videos posted by users could result in legal action against the blog.
Who Is For And Against SOPA?
Those who are supporting SOPA are Hollywood companies, music and book publishers and TV networks whereas those opposing it are big web groups and companies, such as Facebook, YouTube, Google, Yahoo, eBay, Craigslist and Wikipedia.
The White House also seems to be opposing the bill in a statement that was released in January 2012, which said that they believed online piracy especially by foreign sites was an issue that needs to be dealt with but they will not support any legislation that eliminates user’s freedom of expression, enhances online security risk and reduces the usefulness of the internet. Wikipedia protested against the bill by going offline on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 after the hearing in the U.S House of Representatives.