By Jonathan Terry- Terrier Times Staff- VINTON, Va.
The Protect IP and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) are bipartisan bills that would censor any website from publishing copyrighted or potentially copyrighted material. These bills that would block certain sites are of the same breed as the censorship policies used by Iran, Syria, and China.
The websites that are at greatest risk are those that allow users to publicly express themselves through different mediums, like videos, status updates, pictures, and links
Take for example the rise of Justin Bieber. He made his mark by posting videos of himself singing copyrighted R&B songs on YouTube. With the SOPA and Protect IP bills enacted, this would be deemed illegal and possible prosecution could be made. Upcoming YouTube starts like Bieber would be stopped long before they even started. The consequence for breaking this law, such as singing a pop song on Facebook, could stick a person with a 5 year prison sentence, and would cost more than $2,500 to license, or use freely.
Another example would be China’s Internet censorship. A person in China who simply wanted to use Google, arguably the most popular search engine in the world, would be constantly redirected to different sites in order to find the information they wanted. The same person in China wouldn’t be able to use Facebook to keep in touch with their friends, YouTube to watch or post videos, or Twitter to let acquaintances know what they were up to.
It’s important to remember that the United States government sets precedents for Internet regulation, and can set new rules in place for Internet users. These points are mentioned in the Constitution, much like how the government can censor maps, music, books and textbooks, and television, just to name a few.
Something to ponder is the potential for small websites to grow into billion-dollar companies. Keep in mind that Google was started by two Sanford graduates, and Facebook made by four students at Harvard University.
While it’s apparent that these sites have millions, even billions of dollars invested in them, they ascended to the success they have now through Internet entrepreneurship. If these people made fortunes by starting small websites, how easy would it be for the average website designer to create something with such profit? The SOPA and Protect IP bills would hinder the founding of those sites.
A quick search online will show that many people are in outrage over the two bills; petitions and online protests are abundant. One movement was the declaration of the unofficial American Censorship day on November 16th.
In my opinion, the idea that these bills would even be considered is ludicrous. The fact that Americans have the right to free speech and expression should not be limited on the Internet, or in any other form of media. The Internet is just another way for people to voice opinions, and expression is essential to life.
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