Wikipedia has gone dark, Google has blackened out its logo and many other websites are joining in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) currently in Congress, a bill that Rep. Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, says he opposes. Bishop said that piracy hurts the economy and a solution is needed but the current legislation may be flawed.
“SOPA's potential for unintended consequences, should it be enacted in its current form, are extremely concerning,” Bishop said in a statement. “I am primarily concerned about the bill's potential impact on consumers' ability to access an open and free Internet, including lawful domestic websites.”
Bishop says that the bill needs to be redrafted and that “the important concerns of all parties can be addressed in a way that protects both property rights and the freedom of the Internet."”
Introduced into the House of Representatives as H.R. 3261, the bill is an attempt to prevent the free distribution of copyrighted material by foreign websites. According to an article on the Money/CNN website the bill’s opponents say that “the way SOPA is written effectively promotes censorship and is rife with the potential for unintended consequences.”
Some copyright holders want the legislation so the Government can have tools to fight against piracy of media, which they say is losing them money. The CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) commented on the protests saying in a statement that the blackouts are "an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today."
File sharing services like Pirate Bay, which operates in Sweden, openly allow people to download movies, television shows and music without paying for them. Ten years ago, Napster famously got in trouble for its peer-to-peer network that let people freely share music in the form of MP3 files over the Internet.
Both of New York State’s senators are co-sponsors and supporters of similar legislation in the Senate called the Protect-IP Act (PIPA), according to a Pro Publica website that is tracking the legislation’s supporters and opponents. According to the website the bill is not splitting Congress down any party lines, both Democrats and Republicans come out on both sides of the issue.
Patch Fact: Since Wikipedia is down, we thought we’d contribute our bit of information to the collective knowledge of the Internet. Suzanne Vega is known as the “Mother of the MP3” because the acapella version of her song “Tom’s Diner” was used by Karl-Heinz Brandenberg, the creator of the file format, to perfect the sound. Vega spoke about it in an essay in the New York Times in 2008.
What do you think of SOPA? Give us your thoughts in the comments.