With continuous changes and momentum gained in technology innovation, it’s not surprising that legislators often seek to play a role in how technology is to be used. Typically, we hear about such legislation and shrug it off as being something something that doesn’t really affect us. Insignificant. However, in the case of SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy act, every day working individuals from companies such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Linkedin are fuming mad. Not just a little mad. Mad enough that tech giant Google is considering leaving the US Chamber of Commerce. Yahoo has already left the Chamber.
Companies that rely heavily on copyright protection call the bill piracy protection; those that rely on user-generated content call it censorship.
SOPA gives the US Justice Department the power to go after websites that host disputed copyright material. While this sounds, initially, like a good thing – it also gives the government the power to govern and restrict content posted on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The problem is that there is no line drawn between what is truly pirated content – and what is user-generated inspiration creativity such as adorable Sophia Grace Brownlee’s rendition of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” (See video below.) Sophia isn’t necessarily preventing a listener from purchasing the original…Her rendition of the song most likely introduces the song to a completely new group of listeners.
All of the major tech giants (Google, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo, Zyga, eBay, AOL, etc) sent a signed document to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives last month that argues SOPA “pose[s] a serious risk to our industry’s continued track record of innovation and job creation, as well as to our nation’s cybersecurity.” You can read the document here.
The bill is heavily backed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) and corporate lobbyists. The MPAA argues that the Internet will continue to be free and open.
As the two opposing forces debate and accuse each other of ruining the Internet, the history behind this debate can be hard to understand. The infographic, which recently appeared in a recent Mashable article, illustrates the bill’s history, how it would actually be implement and why there is an opposition force.