November 28, 2011
Fair use or copyright infringement? This question has filtered down from Capitol Hill, to the corporations, and all of the way down to the layperson looking for information on the Internet. The debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act is getting to be a hot topic, one that has the potential to completely alter the way we perceive the boundary between free speech and fair use. This bill is targeted at cracking down on online copyright infringement.
Advocates praise how it would provide more targeted protection for the copyright holder and their intellectual property. The law puts into effect a process by which to limit access to sites known for online piracy. It also changes the act of streaming copyrighted material to a felony, and provides immunity to providers that proactively take action against sites recognized for their piracy.
On the other hand, the opposition views this bill as a form of censorship. Recently, Mozilla joined other big-name internet companies such as Google and Facebook on this side of the argument. A copy of the letter that they wrote to Congress can be read on the Mozilla blog. This side sees the limitations as limiting to the freedom in cyberspace, leaving only the lawful abiders to pay the price while the pirates will find ways to continue their unsavory conduct regardless. They believe that the current standards of the DCMA are the most effective language proposed to date.
Either way, the answer to this burning question is still yet unanswered. When the bill goes up for review, it is unclear where the vote will go December 15th.
Oak Grove Branch