19
Jan
12

What are SOPA and PIPA?

Update 20/1/12: SOPA and PIPA are on hault. We can’t say they’re gone forever, but amendments to both the bills are expected later this year.

On January 20, 2012, Rep. Lamar Smith "called off plans to formally draft his version of the anti-piracy bill next month." Rep. Smith stated, “The Committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation … The House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.”

Full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16655272 

 

Update 19/1/12: MegaUpload was just taken down, a couple of hours after I posted this!!

So I have been away for a while. Well, I lost a lot of my interest in my short-lived time as a blogger. I either don’t have the time or the energy or stuff to write on. I also probably lost a lot of my traffic, if not all of it. But I’m gonna do my share anyways, you never know, maybe someone will read this, and at least, it will poll up on search engines. And it is a rather long post, but it’s worth it. So keep reading.

So what is SOPA? And why are a lot of people opposing it?

There are actually two bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act, known as SOPA, in the House and sister legislation called the Protect IP [Intellectual Property] Act, or PIPA, in the Senate, which are both provisioned to be passed by the end of January, after a hearing. Otherwise they are very similar.

First off, as quoted from Wikipedia:

Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), is a law (bill) of the United States of America proposed in 2011, to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Proposals include barring advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with allegedly infringing websites, barring search engines from linking to the sites, and requiring Internet service providers (ISP) to block access. The bill would criminalize streaming of content, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

You can continue reading the Wikipedia post here.

Arabic version available here.

And what about PIPA?

Again, quoting Wikipedia:

The PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 or PIPA), also known as Senate Bill 968 or S. 968, is a proposed law with the stated goal of giving the US government and copyright holders additional tools to curb access to "rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods", especially those registered outside the U.S

Also, continue reading the post here.

OK. This doesn’t sound so bad, right? There’s a catch. Please watch this video until the end, and you’ll know what you need to know without all the technicalities involved.

 

Another simpler video…

 

And here’s one more video about a section of SOPA/PIPA called DNS blocking.

DNS blocking is basically what SAUDI ARABIA does to sites it wants to BLOCK. You do of course know the famous green block screen in Saudi Arabia.

 

You might ask, “This is a US bill, how does it affect me?”

The answer is simple. What is the percentage of US-based websites and American content that you view or use on a daily basis? Even worse, I’m in Egypt, and you probably are. Even WordPress right here, is US-based.

1. First, foremost, and the most important issue here… Any website that is SUSPECTED to have broken any copyright law, let’s say for example, a COVER of a song was posted on Youtube. Under PIPA, this would be infringement, and hence, under SOPA, the whole website, yes, every bit of YOUTUBE will be taken down. Same goes for a piece of information on Wikipedia, a picture of someone or something on Facebook, etc. You get the point. This also goes for comments. If you post a comment right here with a link to a website that infringes copyright, my website will be taken down too.

And if you didn’t watch the video, all what I’ve said so far is already mentioned. So go watch it first. 

2. In most Arab countries, or let’s say, in most parts of the world other than USA and Europe to some extent, copyright laws do not exist. Here, they do exist, but no one cares. They’re not used. You never heard of someone who illegally downloaded music in your neighborhood and got caught for it did you?

So there is the slight inconvenience of not being able to, for example, watch an American show online, or download an American album, while not even being able to purchase it (CDs cost a fortune here, IF AVAILABLE, Paypal doesn’t work, and even iTunes cards are sold for much more than their value). But let’s say this point doesn’t exist, since all what’s being done in our countries is wrong in the first place.

 

So let’s stick to point number 1. This means that anyone who owns anything that is displayed on ANY website and sue and take it down. If the bill passes, I can imagine 90% of the websites we use will no longer exist because of minor copyright infringements.

And I’m sure you’ve heard about or seen the blackout that took place yesterday, especially from Google, Mozilla, Wikipedia and other sites like Wired.com.

 

So who’s opposing it? Let me give you a list.

  1. The White House (The Obama administration)
  2. Facebook
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Google
  5. Yahoo
  6. AOL
  7. Disqus
  8. Mozilla
  9. E-bay
  10. Paypal
  11. Reddit
  12. Twitter
  13. Zynga
  14. LinkedIn
  15. Foursquare
  16. Grooveshark
  17. Craigslist

All of these are websites you probably use, a lot. And will probably be sued and taken down. They all rely on user-based media, and most of it will be gone. Have you ever watched a music video on Youtube? Doesn’t VEVO annoy you already?

 

These companies were with the bill until forced to withdraw support:

  1. Apple
  2. Microsoft
  3. Intel
  4. Adobe
  5. Electronic Arts (EA)
  6. Sony Music Entertainment
  7. Nintendo
  8. GoDaddy

 

And these are websites that support the bill (and tell me if you see a pattern here)

  1. BMI
  2. CBS
  3. Comcast/NBCUniversal
  4. Disney Publishing Worldwide, Inc.
  5. EMI Music Publishing
  6. Entertainment Software Association – Owner & operator of the E3 convention.
  7. ESPN
  8. Major League Baseball
  9. Marvel Entertainment (Marvel Comics)
  10. MasterCard
  11. Motion Picture Association of America
  12. National Football League (NFL)
  13. News Corporation
  14. Scholastic, Inc. (American school kids, look at your books)
  15. Time Warner
  16. Universal Music
  17. Viacom
  18. Visa
  19. Warner Music Group

All are huge corporations that will make money as soon as the bill is passed.

 

OK, so you decided you oppose these bills. What can you do? Well, if you’re in the states, contact your congress representative. You can do so through the Wikipedia link below.

http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/SOPA/Blackoutpage

Sign the Google petition here, already signed by 7 million people at the time this was written:

https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/

If you’re not. Do like me. Spread the word. Show opposition. It will be used against passing these laws.

Click the link below. Read about the blackout and share using the share links on it.

http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/SOPA/Blackoutpage

You can also sign the Google petition and enter any ZIP code. Google any one, it doesn’t matter.

 

Post a status on facebook, create a post like this somewhere and spread awareness. Copy this and post it anywhere. If you’re too lazy, point your friends to this page to know more.

Use the Twitter Hastags: #SOPA , #PIPA and #SOPASTRIKE

 

I hope you guys learned something from this post. If you too oppose it, please spread the word.

Easy links to this page that you can remember and give out to people:

bit.ly/knowSOPA

tinyurl.com/understandSOPA

And for the Arabic version:

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