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Understanding the Foundations of Legalities Behind Sopa and Pipa, Research Paper Example

Pages: 10

Words: 2700

Research Paper

Giving Attention to the Quest against Modern Piracy

Introduction

Protection of one’s own properties is specifically an important aspect of legal applications in the field of the discussion behind ownership and the right to protect everything that belongs to a person from being stolen or for being used and exploited without permission. True, when a person comes to take charge of a particular matter’s ownership, that person becomes aware of his or her rights and thus desires to be protected under possible circumstances of other individuals coming to a desire of taking their properties away from them. For physically tangible properties, there are already concrete legal sanctions that aim to protect the owners (Johns, 2009, 89). Relatively, the tangibility of the properties makes them easier to protect. The limitations are clear, the specific considerations are well assumed hence making the laws protecting them well-defined in clauses that are most importantly effective in refining the courses of development that are needed to be given attention to when they are handed over to their owners and are sealed for protection by the law (Rossen, 2008, 98).

There are instances however that some properties come in intangible characteristics. Abstract properties such as thoughts, ideas and personal artistic creations are also considered as elements owned by those who have created them. Relatively, only a few actually respect this particular aspect of ownership. This is the reason why the development of the copyright law has been introduced and has become a widely accepted concept of property ownership making it easier for abstract properties to be well protected by the legal sanctions applicable to each particular element.

In the modern age of digital media, it is essentially important that this aspect of legal sanctions be tackled properly especially that it involves properties that are intangible and are most often than not easily passable or shareable through the worldwide web[1]. To respond to this need, the SOPA and PIPA legal sanctions have been issued in the United States which lately has created massive effects on how digital files are being examined and checked before they are allowed to be passed online. Was the application of these laws necessary? How much help did it provide in redefining the process of digital piracy in this modern world? These questions are only among the few queries that shall be given full attention in the discussion that follows.

Understanding Piracy

“Piracy” per se is a word that was used decades ago to refer to the act of stealing that happens in the open sea among traders and their attackers, the pirates. Noted for their vigilance, aggressiveness and direct attacks, pirates out in the sea were feared by most seafarers[2]. Understandably, it could be analyzed that the fear that the seafarers have towards these individuals is well regarded for as they do content to embrace anything possible just to get what they want from the traders (Johns, 2009, 78). They even resort to violence and killings if the need be. Respect for humanity is no part of a pirate’s vocabulary. Relatively, it is his personal desire of getting what he wants the way he wants that serves as his own priority and that of the others he works with. In short, it is perceived as the act of stealing in the most direct and obvious way.

For many years, piracy has been considered to be a direct act of robbery of one’s owned properties. However, times change and the process of identifying piracy’s perception and definition have already gradually changed at the same time. In line with this, the coining of the term “piracy” has already incurred several changes that as of today, the term does not only define the direct act of stealing, but that of the indirect yet aggressive dedication of digitally expert individuals or groups in using and maliciously sharing wares and files specifically owned by particular people or groups who deserve to be respected or even paid for the scrupulous way that their property is being used[3]. But what really is digital piracy?

What is Digital Piracy?

The term “digital” in digital piracy simply identifies the medium of property transport and transfer that is used when the act of “stealing” of properties is being conceived (Correa, et al, 2009, 211). Piracy as mentioned before is the act of stealing that was first given birth in the open seas. In this case, the process of transport occurs online through the worldwide web through the use of digital tools that are utilized to get, multiply and share files and digital wares that are made available for the project [either for free or for sale][4]. In a way, knowing that the boundary of the worldwide web is limitless, it is likened to the wide territories of the sea where pirates are often found. Far from the supposed effective control of the law, those who desire to get hold of particular files for sharing are able to do so freely.

The process of digital piracy was born from the harmless idea of peer to peer sharing or P2P that occurs between networked online users who simply want to share files that they have on hand. These files could be theirs or not, the idea is that they simply want to share it. It started out as a simple process of giving others an access to another file for “free”[5]. No fees are often asked for hence the sharers often do not get anything from the act. Nonetheless, greedy online users found the opportunity to make money of the process and decided to get out “big ticket” items or files that could be shared online which people would be willing to pay for. The payment for such files is often released at a very low rate. Ranging from $0.20 to $1.00 (Karaganis, 2011, 87), these files are made available upon the users membership of particular sites serving as the sharing point for the said items.

Digital as the files are, they are easily shared and are easily distributed to users upon payment. Several individuals have already gained so much from this particular act that they have considered this process as a personal business. However, there are still those who simply share and do not get paid for anything that they post online. Hence, this aspect of the act makes the process of creating a law that protected the rights of the owners of the files hard to compel with especially if the actual idea of stealing for profit is to be considered. To make the condition of sharing through online portals a bit clearer for online users, the copyright infringement law has been introduced.

As mentioned earlier, the idea of having a copyright is same with the idea of having a property-rights proof or contract that renders one as the owner of a particular item [in this case the files and the creations that are most often than not considered abstract]. Most likely identified as intellectual property, the copyright infringement law protects the creations made through thoughts and outputs that humans utilize for information. As of today, properties that are included in copyright property ownership may refer to musical arrangements, movies and produced media tools and creations, digital books and created software programs that are specifically created for particular computer functions. Most often than not, these digital files are created and are released to particular recipients only (Karaganis, 2011, 76). Hence, considering that the creators did put so much effort in creating these digital items, they deserve to have the sole right to present it to the public and share or distribute it for free or for sale if they want to. Then again, the internet or the worldwide web has unlimited boundaries making it harder for one to make sure that the file he or she has shared would not be re-shared by others who have already gained access to it.

Digital piracy has specifically caused too much problem specifically to media producers [creators of movies, music and television programming series] and to creators of high-end software programs that were supposed to be specifically used by the clients of the creators only (Edwards, et al, 2005, 5). These files and digital materials are often released in the market for sale to purchasers who wish to buy them for personal use. However, these digital files are most often than not expensive when they are sold online. Hence, to resolve the problem, digital pirates come into the picture. Come to think of it, why would a person buy a digital file online for a higher cost if he could actually get on at a lower rate? True, file sharers use some specifically popular share-sites such as Torrent and Limewire [which are now being strictly monitored by moderators] where networked users are present and are making files readily available for download. No, not all of the files being sent through these portals are for sale. As for a fact, about 80% of the files shared herein are for free. Networked users of the said portals simply want to share the files they have on their hand to support the desire for entertainment or for practical utilization of software programs of the other networked receivers of files on the other end of the line. Considering that the file sharing occurs online, it is most often than not that the sharers and the receivers do not know each other nor are they personally connected hence making it easier for them to contemplate that what they are doing is nothing but the harmless act of sharing. Then again, the owners of these copyrighted materials are supposed to be the only ones who would be able to share or distribute these materials to others the way they like to. Hence, to support the rights of the owners, the SOPA and PIPA legal guidelines have been released.

What is SOPA and PIPA all About?

SOPA or the Stop Online Piracy Act is the a bill from the United States introduced by US Representative Lemar Smith which extends the capability of the US legal sanctions to control and specifically cease the act copyright infringement online. This specific law specifically intends to monitor P2P sharing sites online that reach the US online territory so as to make sure that there are no copyrighted materials being sent through online wires. Although there had been some contradicting reactions upon this particular law, its implementation has been approved which directly affected online operations in the late months of the year 2010. The primary desire of this law is to make sure that the intellectual property market and the people behind them are being well protected and are given the right to solely promote and distribute files and programs that are legally theirs to legalized online portals for sharing.

Moderators of particular websites reacted differently upon the development of this particular law. Some viewed this as an overreaction to the supposed online piracy, while some feared that this would be an invasion of privacy among some of the users who utilize their site for sharing. Hence, to counteract the said legal sanction, the opponents of SOPA introduced OPEN or the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act which specifically provides a better way of identifying files that are being sent online that do not fall under the copyright property law[6]. These opponents believe that SOPA shuts down the sharing industry entirely while OPEN would try to generate balance in the process.

PIPA or the Protect IP Act is a partner legal proposal of SOPA which aims to moderate IP addresses that are constantly noted to be engaged in P2P sharing activities. The idea is specifically directed to the course by which foreign addresses are to be moderated and identified especially in relation to the activity of the users of such domains. PIPA is basically expected to empower the application of SOPA and as partner legal options, these two legal provisions are still being passed on to be implemented altogether although SOPA has a stronger weight especially that it has already impacted the operational shut down of several sites such as limewire and Megauplaod[7].

Conclusion

Creators and producers of digital files should have the reserved right to protect themselves from scrupulous online users. Considering the time and the effort they put to create the programs, the movies, the music and other digital files they post online, they should be given particular reference and if possible the right payment for the work that they have completed. Although not all P2P sharers are engaging in the sales of the files that they are sharing, it could be noted that they have a great contribution on the act of inviting online users to appreciate what they share instead of go directly to the website of the file owners and give them the proper respect and payment needed for them to be able to gain access to the files.

Millions of dollars have already been lost for the past few years in the media industry due to the prevalence of online P2P sharing acts[8]. Programmers are basically having the hard time promoting their own software programs because there are instances when their works are already open for sharing online even before they are able to launch it for market purchase. The businesses enjoined in the digital industry would be able to get the best benefits they could from the implementation of laws such as SOPA and PIPA. Relatively, these laws could also moderate the passing of malicious ware online from foreign sources that are able to access the US online IP territories. Bringing back the profit to where and to whom it belongs is the strong foundation that holds this campaign together hence creating a successful pattern of redefining the media industry in this modern age of digital control.

While there are those who constantly deter the utilization of these laws to protect copyright ownership of creators and producers of media files and programs shared online, it cannot be denied that it does help so much in moderating the increased effect of digital piracy in specific industries in the modern society today. All in all, it is the respect for the property of others that should be duly used to define SOPA and PIPA’s strength and defined capacity for implementation. The society should be able to realize that its impact on realigning this course of culture of respect is an important aspect of a growing community that is able to support each other for growth and progress instead of stealing from each other the capacity of earning properly and rightfully.

References:

Sasso, Brendan (December 19, 2011). “Sen. Wyden pushes anti-piracy alternative”. Hillicon Valley. The Hill.

Anderson, Nate. (March 2009). Why the US needs to blacklist, censor pirate websites. Ars Technica. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/04/why-the-us-needs-to-censor-pirate-websites.ars.  (Retrieved on May 1, 2012).

Edwards, Lilian; Waelde, Charlotte (2005). “Online Intermediaries and Liability for Copyright Infringement” (pdf). Keynote paper at WIPO Workshop on Online Intermediaries and Liability for Copyright, Geneva. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). pp. 5–6.

Correa, Carlos Maria; Li, Xuan (2009). Intellectual property enforcement: international perspectives. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 211.

Johns, Adrian: (2009). Piracy. The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates. The University of Chicago Press.

Rosen, Ronald (2008). Music and Copyright. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press.

Karaganis, Joe  ed. (2011). Media Piracy in Emerging Economies. Social Science Research Council.

Wortham, Jenna; Sengupta, Somini (January 15, 2012). “Bills to Stop Web Piracy Invite a Protracted Battle”. NYTimes. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/16/technology/web-piracy-bills-invite-a-protracted-battle.html?_r=1. (Retrieved on May 1, 2012)

[1] Sasso, Brendan (December 19, 2011). “Sen. Wyden pushes anti-piracy alternative”. Hillicon Valley. The Hill.

[2] Correa, Carlos Maria; Li, Xuan (2009). Intellectual property enforcement: international perspectives. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 211.

[3] Correa, Carlos Maria; Li, Xuan (2009). Intellectual property enforcement: international perspectives. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 211.

[4] Karaganis, Joe  ed. (2011). Media Piracy in Emerging Economies. Social Science Research Council.

[5] Karaganis, Joe  ed. (2011). Media Piracy in Emerging Economies. Social Science Research Council.

[6] Wortham, Jenna; Sengupta, Somini (January 15, 2012). “Bills to Stop Web Piracy Invite a Protracted Battle”. NYTimes. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/16/technology/web-piracy-bills-invite-a-protracted-battle.html?_r=1. (Retrieved on May 1, 2012)

[7] Wortham, Jenna; Sengupta, Somini (January 15, 2012). “Bills to Stop Web Piracy Invite a Protracted Battle”. NYTimes. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/16/technology/web-piracy-bills-invite-a-protracted-battle.html?_r=1. (Retrieved on May 1, 2012)

[8] Johns, Adrian: (2009). Piracy. The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates. The University of Chicago Press.

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