The Internet has changed the world, giving people the ability to share information globally in its relatively short life. Sharing unrestricted information has been the purpose of the Internet since its creation. The Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act bills currently that have been postponed indefinitely in the House and Senate would seriously restrict the ability to spread and share information freely on the Internet in America.
The SOPA, and PIPA have been set-aside for now, but are still strongly backed by the entertainment industry. The bills were introduced to combat the theft of copyrighted material on pirated websites.
They are meant to cut off payment processors like PayPal and advertisement servers that allow pirate sites to operate. The bills would also attempt to restrict American search engines like Google and Yahoo from directing users to sites that contain pirated materials.
But isn’t the whole purpose of the Internet to allow people to start their own websites, and put what they want on them without restriction? If we start allowing the government to control what is put on the Internet, the entire idea of the Internet will be compromised.
Recent protests against the bills by large sites like Wikipedia and Google have shown Americans how important freedom of the Internet can be. Many think that freedom of speech and the press should include the Internet, and they probably are right.
That’s not to say that creators and businesses shouldn’t be entitled to protect their intellectual property. The technology industry has just been moving too fast for the entertainment industry to keep up. Computers and the Internet are only going to become more important as time goes by, and the entertainment industry is going to have to find ways to keep up.
Sen. Harry Reid made this point after the vote on PIPA was called off. “There’s no reason that legitimate issues raised by about PIPA can’t be resolved,” he said about the bill. “Americans rightfully expect to be compensated for their work.”
The Obama administration did not support the bills. A White House Blog post about the bills stated: “Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small…. We must avoid creating new cyber security risks or disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet.”
Both the House and Senate have postponed their bills, and are working on other ways to write and present the bills.
Everyone has a right to protect their intellectual property and the government should have some way to regulate the internet, but not at the cost of our freedom of press when it comes to the internet. Businesses and government will have to work together to find compromises that will help protect copyrighted material, without endangering the freedom of the Internet.
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