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Is SOPA a threat to the Internet?

By **Justin Alvarez**

copyrightpirates.jpgCopyright advertisement from the New York Clipper, 1906. Photograph via Wikimedia Commons by Columbia Copyright Office.

Today, Congress is holding hearings on SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), a companion to the Senate’s PROTECT IP bill introduced last spring. The bill aims to combat online piracy and illegal downloads, but as critics have pointed out the proposal threatens free speech and subverts due process.

Needless to say, the tech community is not happy with the bill. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other media companies sent out a letter (PDF) earlier this week to key members of the House and Senate:

“We are very concerned that the bills as written would seriously undermine the effective mechanism Congress enacted in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to provide a safe harbor for Internet companies that act in good faith to remove infringing content from their sites.”

So both sides agree on the end goal of “cracking down on offshore websites that profit from pirated and counterfeited goods;” it’s the way the bill is drafted that is the cause of concern. As Google pointed out, “the way it’s currently written would threaten innovation, jobs, and free expression.”

Fight For The Future co-founder Holmes Wilson summed up the core issue best to the Guardian. “…[I]f Facebook, YouTube, or other leading websites are found to be holding copyright material without permission, then they are told to take it down. SOPA would make it possible for the U.S. to block the website.”

What do we think—too much of a good thing?


Justin Alvarez Large.jpg
Justin Alvarez is a Guernica Daily and new media editor at Guernica. Read more about him here.

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