Anyone attempting to access the English language site of Wikipedia sees a black screen with the statement: "Imagine a world without free knowledge." The free encyclopaedia site has joined a protest against laws drawn up by US lawmakersaimed to stop piracy and copyright infringement on the internet.
Google.com did not shut down its website, but it blacked its logo out to support the protest. News site Reddit, the blog Boing Boing and other websites are also taking part in the "blackout". Twitter, even though it will be hugely effected if the laws pass, did not join the protest and tweeted it as “silly”
On Tusday, after thousands of petitions on Whitehouse.gov against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) the White House came out with an official response stating that it would not support SOPA, implying a veto by President Obama.
“While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cyber security risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”, said the US government statement.
In theory the law will put an end to the loss of millions by the American entertainment industry and allow the US government to close down websites and search engines that post link protected content such as movies, music, books and articles without permission.
In practice, experts believe that it will obliterate the internet and is nothing less than killing the dog in order to get rid of the fleas.
The law would indeed take down websites that blatantly and continually violate intellectual property rights, particularly in China, but in doing so it would affect legitimate and law-abiding websites like Twitter, Birchbox, Etsy, Foursquare, Pinterest, Facebook and others, that curate content from different sources. If SOPA passes, collecting content will be illegal.
US President Barak Obama cannot forget that he used social networks on the internet in order to get elected and in fact he is still using them to communicate with citizens in order to get their take on issues and asses public opinions, so it's no surprise to anyone that his office came out against SOPA. But in its statement his administration called on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders' new legal tools to combat online piracy beyond U.S. borders.
The challenge for US government, though, is how they will draw legislation that does not violate freedom of expression, as stated in their constitution’s first amendment.
Internet theft is a problem; thousands of movies and songs are downloaded all around the world every day, without permission. Stealing another person’s ideas, creations and inventions is immoral and deprives the authors from well-deserved income, but legitimate as the concerns about copyright protection may be, one cannot forget that in the past movie and music companies tried to outlaw technological advancements like DAT (Digital Audio Tape), MP3 players and VHS tapes, because they claimed they would kill their industry. As they attacked radio when it first came out now they are attacking YouTube.
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