I’m not an occupier. I’m not an activist. I’m fine being in the 99% and understand that hard work will pay off in the end. However, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a bill Congress is voting to give government more power to punish sites who host copyrighted materials and I think it stinks.
Currently the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects and lays out enforcement measures for copyrighted materials. For example, a video sharing site like YouTube could get a notice that a user is hosting a video that it isn’t permitted to show. YouTube is required to notify the user and give them the chance to defend their position. If the video is found to be under copyright, then the video is taken down (you see this with SNL clips all the time). Where SOPA differs is the punishment could come against the actual service itself (YouTube).
The idea of SOPA is right; Someone with copyrighted materials has the right to have it removed if it’s being used incorrectly or illegally. What isn’t right is the language and enforcement that surrounds SOPA – read the bill here. Providers or user generated content could now be on the hook and punished. A SOPA enforcement agency could shut down entire portions of sites if they are deemed to take “deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability” that content is under copyright. It’s this language that has many in the valley on edge. Unfortunately common sense doesn’t have a place here and interpretation would be left up to an enforcement agency. SOPA needs to go away and needs to be reworked completely, that or update language in the DMCA to accomodate the new digital age.
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