SOPA: Stop Online Piracy Act

What is SOPA?

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) was a bill introduced in 2011, by Lamar Smith, a U.S. Representative from Texas. The bill's main goal was to greatly decrease piracy by blocking sites containing pirated content.  The bill was met with outstanding backlash due to its broad definitions. The bill was eventually shelved, but many copycat bills, most notable was PIPA (PROTECT IP Act), were made and still even exist to this day. PIPA was actually near identical to SOPA, and was also a target of people opposed to SOPA.

Controversy

Although on the surface the bill may be a win for all, many people see the bill as a possible threat to a free internet. Opponents claim that the bill is worded in a way that it allows for even legitimate sites such as YouTube, Facebook, etc. to be taken down. Supporters say that the bill only goes for the "worst of the worst" foreign sites that could not otherwise be taken down.

My Position

I am against the bill. I feel that it could not only be used to control the internet, but also be used as a tool for censorship by the government. The internet should be a free resource to everyone and anyone who wants to use it.

Why Should We Support the Bill?

  • Discourages piracy
  • Protects copyright holders
  • Increases American economy
  • Stops illegal websites that would otherwise stay up

Who Supports the Bill?

Notable companies who support the bill include:

  • AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations)
  • RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)
  • MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America)

Why Should We Oppose the Bill?

  • Possibly attacks law-abiding sites
  • Censors content
  • Gives government too much power
  • Discourages Internet entrepreneurs

Who Opposes the Bill?

Notable websites who are against the bill include:

  • Google
  • Wikipedia
  • Reddit

The Future

It seems for now, bills like SOPA aren't going away. While SOPA may have been stopped nearly four years ago, bills such as ACTA, CISPA, PIPA are still coming. Should a bill like this pass, it can restrict our internet to the point of other countries where the internet is ruled by the government.  There are other ways, as some ISPs have started an alert system that can detect whether someone is downloading illegal content. After five or six strikes, their internet speed is greatly reduced. They hope that they can educate rather than penalize those who get this content, as many people do it without even knowing it's piracy.

Visual Representation