The Big Deal Behind Protect IP and SOPA

Depending on where one goes on the Internet, people generally find two narratives about this bill.  One of which often proposed by the critics is how this bill will stifle free speech and end the Internet, as we know it.  The other side claims that it is only targeting piracy and will try to shut down websites that have offended copyright laws.

That seems logical.  But what happens if we look at those who support this bill and who do not?  Who has to gain from it?

According to open Congress, if one looks at who supports the Protect IP bill, which is the bill originally sent to the Senate and passed earlier this year (Washington Post).  Various specific interest groups are found in support, like the Ford Motor Company, American Association of Independent Music, American Federations of Music, Microsoft, Major League Baseball, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Warner Music Group, CBS Corporation, Walmart, Comcast and even the National Association of Theater Owners.

Now that we have a clearer picture of the organizations supporting this group—big powerful corporations that would like to hold their position which lose $135 billion in copyrights each year—we can understand why they would support it.

However, these websites do not even have to be violating any copyright at all.  They can just be “suspected” of violating copyrights (CNET/).

So, you know all of those videos on youtube that you like and enjoy so much?  If these bills pass, they might go away overnight.

It should be noted that this bill does not simply just focus on music, but it also covers a broad range of industries, and is far-reaching which should concern anyone who is worried about their civil liberties in this day and age.

In the earlier version of the bill, Protect IP did not force ISPs like Comcast andAT&T to block access to the websites.  Carey Sherman, the head of the Recording Industry Association said that it would be used to deny “access to only the illegal part of the site.” It seems, however, that if the bill was passed the industry would have the ability to to shut down the sites that would be doing more than just that.

My verdict:  the protect IP and SOPA will be giving the government the power to shut down websites that are suspicious of violating copyright laws.  Copyright laws have never been protected by the first amendment so the reasoning that this bill stifles free speech does not ring true to me.

However, this bill could do away with a lot of the things that we enjoy right now and change the way the Internet is.  Youtube, metacafe and all other sites like it might only be allowed to show “official” content while fan-made content and individualized content become severely restricted under the guise of copyright infringement.

Will fansites be able to exist anymore?  Just how far will this go?

It seems to me that the industry is looking to protect itself from the competition it fears so much and that it will do whatever it can, by any means necessary, to secure its profit.  Protect IP and SOPA seem to benefit the industry by aiming for security, but, unfortunately, it could undermine and change the way the web is today.