January 18: Protesting SOPA

Internet giants like Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, and other influential firms are joining in tomorrow’s Internet protest against the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) bill, which is currently being debated in Congress.SOPA and PIPA (Protect IP Act) are both pieces of legislation that aim to stop the pirating of America’s intellectual property and copyrighted material, especially piracy originating from foreign “rogue” sites. This is, of course, a noble cause; no one believes that stealing movies or music and selling them for profit is a good thing. But the language in the bills leaves a lot of room for interpretation that copyright trolls could use against American tech companies.Here are three compelling arguments against SOPA and PIPA: 
  1. The law could threaten any Web-based company that includes user-supplied content. It’s nearly impossible for a site to monitor all the content users upload. If even a fraction of it infringes on copyright laws, the entire site could be shut down, amounting to censorship or blacklisting. Reddit, YouTube, Facebook, Google, Wikipedia; all of these are sites whose business could be threatened by these bills.
  2. Small start-up tech companies wouldn’t survive in a SOPA-hostile environment. Established content-provider s have the resources to stave off the constant claims of copyright infringement that could arise. Small upstarts, who need to spend resources on improving their technology instead of in courts, don’t.
  3. The bills’ measure to cut off access to offending sites messes with online security protocols, exposing anyone who engages in e-commerce to additional security risk. Taking over the ability to block sites by their domains will literally break the Internet, putting the entire industry in jeopardy. It’s estimated that Hollywood loses about $446 million in profit due to piracy each year. The entire online industry is worth 3.8% of U.S. GDP (approximately $574 billion). We’re all for reigning in piracy, but it’s not worth breaking an Internet industry that is thriving in our recessed economy.
CustomGuide joins these companies in protesting SOPA. Upholding copyright law is important, but it’s not worth breaking the Internet. Let’s go back to the drawing board and make sure the language in these bills is right before they pass.