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Internet to stage protest against legislation

January 17, 2012 - Art Smith

Tomorrow morning Wikipedia, the free Internet encyclopedia will go dark for a day in protest of a piece of legislation that is being considered in the House of Representatives.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act  (PIPA) in the Senate are both designed to help stop the posting of stolen content on the web.

I’ll be the first to say, if you didn’t create the content, you have no right to post it. In this case the legislation likely goes too far by placing huge penalties on sites.

It would allow the courts to bar online advertising on the sites and prohibit sites such as PayPal from doing business with it. Search engines would have to stop linking to it, and Internet service providers would have to block access to sites.

The owner of a site also could end up in jail for up to five years.

I’m all for weeding out the trash that is on the Internet, but this could also hurt legit sites that are trying their hardest to provide information for the consumer.

There are already programs in place to help content-generators keep track of where their content is ending up. My experience is most content that is lifted is done so by organization that are proud  someone did a story on them and they are simply trying to share it. 

It’s already illegal to steal copyright material; I don’t think we need more legislation to prevent it.

The use of material can occur in many ways. A book review for instance, may include an excerpt. A user of a site could post, as a comment, materials they did not have the legal right to use. My experience is if you simply ask someone to remove content, they will.

The SOPA appears to be losing strength, but the protest goes on. In addition to Wikipedia there are literally hundreds of sites that plan on shutting down for a day in protest.

To see if your favorite sites plan on going dark, view the list on the SOPA Strike website.


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