17th December 2011
By Madison Ruppert
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
Today the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee deliberated over the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA for short.
As I have previously outlined, this legislation, like the sister legislation in the Senate known as the PROTECT IP Act, or PIPA, is incredibly dangerous.
This is being pushed under the auspices of combating internet privacy and protecting the intellectual property of content creators the world over, it is actually quite dangerous and has led many internet pioneers to speak out against it.
There are powerful lobbies pushing on both sides of this debate, with roughly 350 or more large corporations, along with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation media empire, in favor of the bill and internet giants like Google, Yahoo! and AOL opposing it.
According to a report published by the Los Angeles Times, both sides have spent more than $90 million lobbying for support amongst legislators and the public alike.
A group of internet companies have even gone as far as to publish full-page advertisements this month in a range of major newspapers with considerably sizeable distributions.
The advertisements warned that the pending legislation would be setting a dangerous precedent and the simple fact is that the support for this legislation is not as massive in the public sphere as it seems to be among the major media outlets, Hollywood, and some lawmakers.
According to a survey conducted in the United States by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, the public is nearly evenly split on the issue of punishing individuals for downloading illegally obtained music or movies.
With a mere 52 percent of Americans supporting such penalties, it is clear that this legislation would be controversial if passed and implemented as individuals like Murdoch are expecting and hoping it to be.
This nearly even split is likely due to the fact that so many Americans, and people around the world, have been guilty of downloading pirated content in one way or another.
In many cases, this isn’t even conscious as many people have watched a video on YouTube for which the uploader did not own the rights.
While this seems harmless to most people (and I would argue that it is indeed harmless), this pending legislation would make it a lot more serious.
The entirety of YouTube could be shut down just because someone uploaded a video for which they did not hold the rights, just like any other website that allows users to freely upload and create content.
According to the Princeton Survey Research Associates International study, a whopping 46 percent of Americans have downloaded copyrighted content, although in reality this number is likely much larger.
I seriously doubt that this includes people who have watched a news clip on YouTube uploaded by someone other than the corporation that holds the rights or a TV show under similar circumstances.
The fact is that many people do not understand how easily this legislation could be used to target websites like Wake Up World, where a single copyrighted picture inadvertently uploaded to the website could be used to shut down the entire site.
While this legislation is only being drafted in the United States, it will indeed affect the entire world’s access to the internet as so much of the infrastructure is located here.
I believe that this is something that everyone should take notice of, as if this passes, it is indeed setting a dangerous precedent that could very well change the entire internet as we know it, and not for the better.
Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at [email protected]