The Internet protest that helped contribute to Congress voting to postpone a decision on the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act is only the beginning of the conversation surrounding anti-piracy laws.
Last week, Internet users were met with a 24-hour Wikipedia blackout. Google linked its “blacked-out” logo to an anti-SOPA petition, and Web users took to social media sites in protest of the bills. That same day, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., introduced an alternative bill, the Online Protection and ENforcement of Digital Trade Act in the House. Since SOPA incited the largest-scale web protests, students should make an effort to be aware of bills in the future such as OPEN.
Since the protest, Issa has claimed the new act protects the open access of the Internet while still maintaining creators’ intellectual property rights. OPEN focuses on tackling foreign websites that break copyright law rather than shutting down an entire website because a part of it contains copyrighted material. Keeping up with the action of this bill and other possible drafts is important to protecting the openness that college students value when logging online.
Going forward, students should exercise personal responsibility and stop illegally downloading intellectual property. This would show understanding that copyright sharing is illegal and creates serious financial loss for the parties who created the work — a loss that gives validity to SOPA supporters like the Motion Picture Association of America, which seeks to ensure protection of their creative work.
Tech companies and Internet users say many SOPA measures are too extreme. But speaking out against those provisions should also mean stopping piracy — especially for those who download one moment and tweet #stopsopa the next.