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Published on Jan 18, 2012

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***How the Stop Online Piracy Act Threatens the Internet***
At the behest of the entertainment industry, the United States Congress is currently considering two bills that are aimed at stopping online piracy but which will kill the internet as we know it in the attempt. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House of Representatives, and the similar Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) in the Senate, are likely to be voted on early in 2012. Anyone who values the freedom of expression that the internet has given us must do everything within their power to prevent these bills from becoming law.

What Is SOPA?

SOPA grants new and sweeping powers to both the government and the entertainment industry corporations. The industry is desperate to prevent foreign websites from distributing its precious creations without paying the royalties they believe they deserve under U.S. copyright law. In order to prevent offending sites from operating, SOPA empowers the Department of Justice to force U.S.-based internet service providers (ISPs) to block the reported sites. Search engines can be commanded to stop linking to them. And, as if the threat of enforcement wasn't enough to get webmasters' attention, sites that feature any copyrighted material can be shut off from payment processors like PayPal or the advertising networks that provide revenue. In many cases, a mere allegation from a corporate complainer will be enough to trigger punitive measures against websites - here or abroad - and an entire site can be shut down when only one page contains an inadvertent link or item of copyrighted material.

How SOPA Threatens the Internet

The first problem with SOPA is that it is doomed to fail before it even enters the statute books. The technical mechanism envisioned by the bill's drafters involves interruptions to the domain name server (DNS) system, so that surfers entering an offending website address into their browser will not be taken there. But there is an easy way to sidestep this block by simply entering the numeric IP address of the site. Interfering with DNS, apart from being pointless, also threatens the integrity and security of the internet, particularly with regard to encrypted communication.

The heavy-handed snooping that will be required of ISPs and search engines has horrifying privacy implications. ISPs will almost inevitably have to engage in "deep-packet inspection" to watch everything that web surfers do online in order to be able to comply with the ordered blockade.

Content-sharing sites like Tumblr, YouTube, and Twitter face an uncertain future, and will likely not be able to function at all. But the larger issue here is the devastating impact on free speech itself, as the hitherto unrestrained discussion in which we have all been able to join will be stifled by constant fears of injunctions and economic sanctions. The constitutional issues guarantee that SOPA will be tied up in the courts for years, but we should never be thinking about passing such a law in the first place. There are ways to protect copyrights without destroying the internet in the process. One of the alternatives, known as the OPEN Act, has been introduced in the House and deserves more attention.

For a more complete look at these pernicious bills, including the unholy alliances that are driving this process, visit North Lake Web Solutions. And for thoughtful analysis of internet issues in general, visit the Lake County Tech Blog.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Rich...

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6818600


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