Shelby: Did you go to Google yesterday, or Wikipedia, and noticed something was a little off? Instead of displaying their usual homepages, these web giants joined hundreds of smaller sites in an international blackout to protest two bills in Congress: SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House of Representatives and PIPA, the Protect IP Act in the senate.
While the bills are intended to stop the illegal downloading and streaming of things like TV shows, movies, and music, many websites say the bills go too far.
“This is a really big deal. It’s something we’re going to fight. And it’s something that we think threatens the entire tech sector. “
Shelby: But fighting against them is the entertainment industry, which is a big supporter of the bills. If passed, they would help movie studios and recording labels protect their content from being posted without their permission.
Here is how it would work: if an entertainment company found a website they thought was violating their copyrighted material by doing things like offering illegal downloads, they could call on the department of justice to cut the website’s internet access, block search results and links to the website or force the website’s business to be stopped.
Right now, the current law forces websites to remove material that might be infringing on someone else’s copyright if the copyright holder asks them to do so. But it does not call for the entire website to be shut down.
The music and film industries say that is not enough. They want the law to do more to protect intellectual property.
But many fear that SOPA and PIPA give entertainment companies too much power and say it is unfair to shut down a website based on a single complaint.
“What these bills will do is require us internet service providers to pretend that these allegedly pirate websites don’t exist and they’ll, sort of, virtually disappear from the internet.”
Shelby: Those against it also say it is a form of censorship and say that internet companies could be forced to monitor users and content.
“It’s the free speech implications of this. It’s like saying there are a few bad books in the library. So we’ll just lock the entire library.”
Shelby: And that is why sites like Wikipedia decided to shut down for 24-hours and call on their users to speak out.
“This is a big issue and what we’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Shelby: In addition to blackouts and internet protests, companies are also dishing out the dollars. According to federal disclosure records, at least 115 companies and organizations on both sides of the debate are spending millions to sway the outcome of SOPA and PIPA.
So, who will win? It is up to lawmakers to decide.
Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.