Several websites have gone dark in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA that legislators plan to hold hearing on next month. IU School of Law Professor Emily Morris says SOPA, and similar proposals, really allows both private copyright owners and the government to target web-based business owners and to force them to be gatekeepers against piracy.
“There have been a variety of proposals,including SOPA, that are all designed as a way protecting against piracy that occurs by infringers who are unreachable for any reason, either because they are outside of the jurisdiction, or they’re just too cagey to be caught,” she says.
She says those owners say it could be burdensome to them due to the amount content placed on various websites. Morris adds there are concerns with copyright owners acting as vigilantes as well trying to protect their work. She says web-bases businesses are also worried about the cost of potential lawsuits. SOPA is being considered in the US House, with a similar proposal being considered in the Senate.
Internet sites including Wikipedia and Google are showing their disapproval with SOPA and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, the Senate version of the bill. The act would put stricter legislation in place that would keep websites from selling pirated content.
Wikipedia’s website shut down for a full day Wednesday in protest. Instead of its normal content, it displayed this message:
“Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge” For over a decade,
we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia
in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering
legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet.
For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”
Google blacked out its logo and put up a page where users could sign a petition against the bill.
Indiana congressmen have taken different stances on the issue. Senators Dan Coats and Richard Lugar say they are still looking into the legislation, but Representatives Todd Rokita and Todd Young say they will oppose the House bill.
Below are the statements the congressmen released to Indiana Public Media on the issue.
Senator Dan Coats: Senator Coats is examining this bill closely and the potential impacts it could have on Hoosiers and legal online content.
Senator Richard Lugar: Senator Lugar is among the 60 senators who have not cosponsored the Senate version, PIPA. The Senate has not yet considered the bill.The sponsor, Senator Leahy, is changing the bill based on meetings with internet and media companies. At this point we do not know what will be in the Senate version of the bill.
Representative Todd Rokita: Representative Rokita opposes the Stop Online Piracy Act because it presents a serious threat to Internet freedom and our Constitutional rights. If it comes before the House in its current form he will vote against it. Internet piracy is a serious problem. It robs American companies and innovators of their intellectual property, and it destroys American jobs. That said, the threats SOPA poses to Internet freedom and free speech as well as the serious questions regarding its effectiveness in combating Internet piracy are too great for Rep. Rokita to support it. He believes there is a way to protect intellectual property while still protecting Internet freedom, but SOPA is not it.
Representative Todd Young: “I have serious concerns about the possibility of free speech being stifled and will not support legislation that does so.I’m encouraged that the DNS [Domain Name System] blocking provisions were dropped this past Friday, and I’m hopeful we will see a compromise that protects copyright holders in a way that also protects the free flow of information.But again, I will not support any piece of legislation that infringes on free speech or the free market aspects of the internet.”