The Internet the world has come to know today may become a lot more restricted if HR 3261 is passed.
House Resolution 3261 is also known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Representative Lamar Smith of Texas introduced the bill.
The bill, if signed into law, would expand the abilities of the legal system to fight the theft of intellectual properties by going after websites found to be hosting such content.
Lynn Overmyer, Ferris senior in the graphic design program said, “This bill would shut down the information superhighway that is the Internet.”
Instead of the current system where websites are issued takedown notices by the copyright holders, SOPA would have the legal system fight the websites full force. This would include causing search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to remove the websites from their listings, payment organizations like Paypal and Visa to stop transactions to such websites, and even Internet service providers to block access to the websites.
This would also mean that any website that hosts user-uploaded content could be threatened, including YouTube, Tumblr and Flickr.
Another issue with the bill is that it already has its loopholes, where companies who were once affiliated with the United States would simply just leave. This loss of jobs and capital could severely affect the economy as it grows increasingly reliant on the Internet. It also means that if the website is located overseas, it still can be affected but not to the same severity.
Stephen Clark, Ferris junior pre-pharmacy student, said “Piracy is wrong but [SOPA] is flawed since it gives the American government so much power over what is a worldwide entity.”
The bill is currently supported by organizations that rely on the strength of copyrights such as the Motion Picture Association of America, Recording Industry of America, Viacom, and other cable, movie and music industries. SOPA’s support is also spreading to other companies. NBCUniversal sent a letter to all of its advertisers, advising them to support SOPA.
The sister bill working through the Senate is the PROTECT IP Act, which would block access to foreign websites found to be “dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods.”
As with any possible Congressional act, send your support or opposition to the cause by contacting your local House Representative or Senator.