If you have a Tumblr, if you like Youtube, if you love Facebook, or if you spend anytime on Internet at all, you should be afraid. All of these sites are in serious danger of deletion thanks to a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.
SOPA essentially gives copyright owners the power to remove any site that hosts unauthorized copyright if the offending material isn’t removed in 5 days. The user sharing the copyrighted content could face up to 5 years in jail.
Any possible website that lets it’s users share information can enable copyright infringement, which means that under this bill, private corporations would be able to target countless websites and shut them down. All of this can happen without a trial or hearing.
I’m not for Internet piracy, but this bill could potentially remove such a large number of websites that it begins to violate our first amendment right of free speech. Under current law, a copyright owner can remove the specific file or post containing copyrighted material, but SOPA would result in many law-abiding citizens losing the ability to freely communicate and express themselves.
Corporations would be destroying an entire new form of communication that has revolutionized the way that the world interacts because of some video clips that aren’t filling their already nicely-stuffed wallets.
And the reality is that the bill wouldn’t stop piracy, it would drive the criminals to bypass the abusive laws by creating an alternate, potentially sinister network that would be even harder to police and regulate. A group of 83 prominent Engineers recently sent an open letter to Congress explaining that the system of blocking websites by making their domain name unreachable would lead to disunity and a “network or errors and security problems”.
What does this mean for you? It means no more cute cat videos and no more chatting with friends. It means an Internet full of “errors and security problems” because one Youtube video had copyrighted music playing in the background. It means a broken Internet.
If I haven’t scared you enough already, consider this: because of cover videos violating copyright laws, Justin Bieber could be sitting in jail.
Ami Ballmer, whose full name is definitely not Amarantha, is a member of the class of 2014 and opinion columnist for The Foothill Dragon Press. An active member of the Speech Team and Bioscience Academy, Ami spends her weekends at tournaments or doing homework. When her classes don’t give her too much work, she prefers to watch ridiculous amounts of Netflix or play Words with Friends. She is an avid "Doctor Who" fan and enjoys knitting, penguins and skirts. Though she cannot stand country music, Ami loves The Shins, Ingrid Michaelson, The Freelance Whales and Radical Face. She has no idea what she wants to do with her life, but likes science and math, and hopes that by the end of high school she’ll have a little more of an idea.