Internet copyright issues revealed in SOPA debate

Obviously SOPA and the related bills have had an onslaught of criticism since it was introduced. The collegiate generation, especially, have been crying out for their rights and privacy.

We have grown up with the issue of internet piracy starting with sites like LimeWire and Napster. Frankly, we are pretty used to getting things for free when we can. It’s not an exaggeration that college students today have little to no concept of copyright laws.

The internet has completely changed the way we share information. With almost anything at our fingertips, lines between what is free for the taking and what must be credited to the original owner are not clear.

As writers and generally creative people, we do understand the desire to make a living from our work. Many of us use the internet to share our work and get feedback so we understand the need for copyright. Collaboration, however, is definitely a big part of what makes the internet an amazing tool.

Still, when half of the internet blacked out for a day, we took notice. Wikipedia, Reddit and Tumblr are a part of our everyday life. Even Google made a statement about the law.

While the ideas behind SOPA were warranted, many felt that it was hearkening images of China or Libya. This is America. Shutting down websites with no warning or trial does not seem to fit in the land of the free.

Mostly, beyond our fear for our beloved Internet, our biggest problem with SOPA is the timing. In a time where the economy is struggling, and with several other big issues on the table (like gay rights and health care just to name a few). The entertainment industry cannot be suffering the most in America, and yet Congress has wasted a great deal of time with this legislation.

The legislation would affect the economy in other ways as well. Websites like Tumblr and Wikipedia employ a large number of people. What will happen to these people if the websites that they are paid to maintain are suddenly shut down by the government?

Also, SOPA seems to take on a lot more than just piracy. GIFs and memes are creative and fun outlets, and they are making no profit. Fanfiction and TV show/book/movie spinoffs are purely for the benefit of fellow fans. Whole communities are formed around these like minded people. These fandoms are actually helping the industry with free entertainment.

Something positive that SOPA has highlighted, however, is the power of protest gone right. Like the Occupy Movement, this protest was extremely widespread and popular. Unlike the Occupy Movement, this protest was violence free.

It is encouraging to see a successful protest that is not garnering negative news. A great thing about America is that we can disagree vocally, and find success.

The support from large internet organizations definitely helped matters. A protest backed by corporations like Wikipedia and Google has more clout than the Occupy Movement. Violence is not necessary when money and services are being shut down. Nothing cries out louder than an inconvenienced America.

SOPA seems to be defeated, but the movement for more internet control is not over. For now, not much has changed. The idea has shaken a lot of people and brought up many questions about what should be free and what should be protected.


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