Internet Piracy, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

On January 18, 2012, the online information trove, Wikipedia was forced to go dark for 24 hours, which thus posed greatest effect on the college students who panicked because of the deadlines. The message from Wikipedia was patent: no individual should undermine the transparency and openness that has developed the Web to be such a global –changing resource. The Wikipedia and other internet firms were worried that the internet was facing a severe risk from probable government control (Black 33). Under extreme pressure from film studios and huger music and media firms, Congress has been focusing on developing new lawful powers to eliminate the websites that undertake illegal streaming and downloading films, music and other copyright material from internet sources. The bill in Congress, the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the other in Senate, Protect Intellectual Property Act, aims at empowering the legal systems to make firms such as Google prevent supposed copyright violators from their websites and compel advertisers to minimize payments to offending websites. Consequently, this has sparked the latest conflict in the long-running battle between Hollywood and Silicon Valley on how balance copyright aspects in respect to internet freedom. The debate in the Congress pits both the recording and film industries well-linked activisms, versus the dotcoms’ collective power of the popular Internet opinion and their own equally well-coordinated activism (Goodale 16).

According to the proponents of the bills, online piracy is a disaster that robs money not only on the internet industry, but also the music and movie industries. It has been estimated in the US that industries are losing as much as $ 58 billion annually from the US economy and risks millions of employment opportunities. The existing laws on piracy, particularly on regard to the internet are limited not to provide comprehensive actions on the perpetrators of the criminal act, but eliminating on the overseas sites that might be beyond the provisions of the U.S. laws. Thus, there is the need for enacting laws that will end the internet piracy. They argue that the bill will affect the home-based websites, but will affect the foreign sites that engage themselves with website “theft” (Crowley 12).

On the other hand, critics of the two bills perceive the bills as too broad and have devastating outcomes if passed. They believe that the bills would negatively impact on small sites that have never done any wrong on piracy issues (Goodale 16). The bigger sites such as Facebook and You Tube will encounter more expenses by embracing new strategies on monitoring their users’ actions or face legal action. The bills on piracy, according to the critics lead the governments and firms like Google to loss considerable amount of money because introducing new regulations in the internet industry would mean extra costs.

Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a bill that is aimed at expounding the U.S law enforcement to eliminate online piracy and copyright intellectual property. The provisions in the bill allows the court systems to stop  advertising firms and available payment structures from undertaking businesses with infringing websites  and  search engines from connecting to these illegal sites. The court system provides directions on ways on requiring legal internet providers to block links to these sites (Crowley 12).

As a result of limitations observed on SOPA provisions, the legislators have backed the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act. Although the SOPA Act is principally aimed at eliminating copyright violation by overseas websites, several critics has challenged the enforcement approaches outlined in the bill, which could pose devastating impacts.  Butler Brandon took issues with provision SOPA Section 201 of the bill and argued that the Act upon approval will expound the definition of “willful” copyright infraction to probably include instances, where an individual or a firm which believed in good faith, which its infringing conducts, was legal. According to Butler, this “innocent” infringement has small probability for financial penalties than the aspect willful infringement (Crowley 12).

Other provisions within the SOPA Act would permit an act of felony rather than transgression penalties for some illegalized public offenses of copyrighted functions. The OPEN Act does not comprise these or identical provisions, which Butler described as certainly an aspect considered by the Congress on support of the bill. The OPEN Act ignored the aspect of the ‘willful ‘streaming that was being concern on some individuals.  The OPEN Act does not include in its provision s the aspect of “flittering or blocking websites.”  The proponents of the OPEN Act has adopted the public opinion aspect  whereby the relevant representative of the bill has set up a website ,KeepTheWebOPEN.com,  where several individuals contribute positively regarding the bill through interactive sessions while one visits the website (Rapp 16). The OPEN Act, as compared to SOPA Act, permits a considerable time for public participation at each early stage in building the legislation. Butler suggested that there was the need for other bills to follow the same structure of OPEN ACT (Crowley 12).

The repercussion against SOPA Act has prompted the bill proponents that include media companies and other interested parties on the Act to call for strict regulations that will protect their intellectual property. The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee faces a lot of challenges in trying to build and pass the bill. The critics of the SOPA Act demanded that there was the need to delete controversial provisions awaiting further deliberations. Both the two bills, PIPA and SOPA, focus on websites outside United States, which has pirated material. The American authorities has no legal permission to directly access such websites, SOPA would permit copyright holders to request  American sites to undertake links to them  in order to stop transacting business with them via process known as DNS filtering.  This strategy can be implemented by music and film executives, who aim at safeguarding their intellectual property from pirates, which are threats from foreign firms.

In the view of large companies such as Google and other start-up firms, the regulations will negatively impact on smaller American internet firms. According to critics, the regulation would suppress innovation and permit element of piracy on these smaller internet firms.  The DNS filtering technology would interrupt the internet’s addressing system, leading to security issues.  The SOPA bill has received financial back-up from interested groups, which it amounted to $ 85m to legislators and $ 45m to senators against the anti-SOPA activists who have donated $17 and $ 27 respectively. The two bills have been affected by politics where the support or criticism entirely depends on party politics and the media has benefited from this debate on the bills. The SOPA bill has led party politics has become an election issue where supporters in states look at the aspect of the bill.

The critics have furthered the argument and said that the anti-piracy bills would not only conflict First Amendment free-speech liberties, however, it could “break” the internet by interrupting the internal addressing system if the bill is approved. Strong proponents of the bill who include legislators, music and film industries have registered their optimism that the bill will succeed in eliminating online piracy upon its approval by the Congress.  On the other hand, the proponents of the two bills have not relented on their criticism whereby they continue spreading the message of doom to the bills. They claim that the PIPA and SOPA bills would not stop piracy, but instead it will promote it.

The websites such as Wikipedia, Google, Reddit, Twitter, and Mozilla have opposed the two bills highlighting the negative consequences of the bill and it effects on small internet providers. They argue the regulations ad provisions of the bill are meant to perpetuate censorship.  The other opponents of the bill are White House advisers who recognize the menace associated with online piracy, which poses serious problems thus need for severe legislative reaction.  They argue that the SOPA and PIPA bills has some shortcomings associated to them ,which include the aspects of the bills will thwart freedom expression ,promotes cyber security or undermines the element of flexibility ,innovates world internet. The attention has changed to alternative bills that promote freedom of expression and reduces drawbacks that are aimed at blocking the use of global “rogue websites “that allows pirated music, films and software which is to be downloaded (Goodale 16).

Under the troubled PIPA and SOPA bills, search engines might have to disable their links to oversee websites undermining on the US intellectual property regulation; advertising services might be thwarted as well as regulations that disrupt payment processing. In the face of an internet insurgence, both the legislators and senators are backing away from both SOPA and PIPA bills currently passing to the Congress. The protests seen being undertaken by the internet giants such as Google and Wikipedia, which at some time they shut down for at least one day, goes past the two bills. The witnessed protests are a wake-up call for Congress to revisit their positions and provide lasting solutions to the problem of internet piracy. The critics argue that the Congress has not addressed the issue of internet piracy in a conclusive manner and they need to provide modern solutions to address the modern piracy challenges (Goodale 16).

The main objectives of both PIPA and SOPA bills is to cut off the links that supply copyrighted content illegally. However, the critic has termed this as heavy –handed solution, which would not be able to solve this challenge and might invalidate the sharing and partnership that evoke the element of innovation on the internet. The greatest challenge suggested by the critics, is the failure of music and film industries to adapt rapidly to the new online challenges in the global arena, and they say that these people want to use Congress to rubberstamp their outdated practices (Rapp 17).

The GoDaddy Company, which is a major registrar of website names, faces a probably worry of consumer defection occasioned by politics. The protests witnessed can be linked to the support the company gave to the proponents of SOPA bill, was focused at eliminating infringement aspects on copyright (Black 33). There has been global outcry from individuals, Google and Facebook that the proposed SOPA bill is draconian, which will lead to closing down websites that are looked upon to provide information. The GoDaddy Company has managed to quench the planned boycott by reversing its support on the bill (Rapp 17).

The strikes witnessed and other forms of strikes that culminated the web, was undertaken to act as a wake-up call to the legislators on the bills thus stifling freedom of expression. The integrity of the protest was questioned, on whether the protest was suitable for websites that were more often seen as arbitrators of free speech online. Proponents of the SOPA bill disputed not only the basis of the internet firms concerns, but also the decision to openly strike, and in some instance s of self-censor (Black 33).

Works Cited

Black, John. Stopping SOPA. Economist, 2012, Vol. 401 Issue 8768, p33-33, 1p. Retrieved from <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=70469282&site=ehost>

Clayton,Mark. Would SOPA and PIPA bills ‘break Internet?’ Anti-piracy measure being revised. Christian Science Monitor, 2012, pN.PAG, 1p. Retrieved from: <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspxdirect=true&db=a9h&AN=70376841&site=ehost>

Crowley, Michael. Battlefield SOPA. By: Crowley, Michael. Time, 2012, Vol. 179 Issue 4, p12-12.Retrived from: <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=70569723&site=ehost>

Goodale, Gloria. SOPA and PIPA bills: old answers to 21st-century problems, critics say. Christian Science Monitor, 2012, pN.PAG, 1p.Retrieved from: <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspxdirect=true&db=a9h&AN=70376845&site=ehost>

Josh ,Smith. SOPA Blackouts: Free Speech or ‘Abuse of Power’? By: Smith, Josh. Congress Daily, 2012,PN.PAG.1p.Retrieved from: <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=70534642&site=ehost-live>

Keny ,Bernard . SOPA and PIPA Issues in the Internet Society .New York, NY :Cambridge University Press,2012,print.

Rapp David. Library Copyright Alliance Supports SOPA Alternative. Library Journal, 2012, Vol. 137 Issue 2, p16-18, 2p.Retrieved from: <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=70538433&site>

Trumbull, Mark. Boycott of GoDaddy over SOPA bill a barometer of Internet politics. Christian Science Monitor, 2011, pN.PAG, 1p: Retrieved from: <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspxdirect=true&db=a9h&AN=69989939&site=eho>

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