There’s been a big fuss over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) recently. If you tried to go to Wikipedia on Jan. 18, you know that it was voluntarily blacked out. This is a very confusing issue for the public. Is it meaningful? I believe so.
At the heart of the SOPA debate is the Internet piracy of copyrighted material like movies, TV and music. There’s no question that piracy is a problem. But sometimes, the solution is worse than the problem, especially when it is borne of a corrupt political process.
The SOPA legislation that has been stream-rolling through Congress would severely restrict freedom of speech and curtail due process. It would allow for the shutdown of websites that might have accidentally had a link to copyrighted material somewhere on their site.
So if this passes, you could go to clark.com one day and find it is not there anymore. Or to YouTube.com. Or to a million other sites. Copyrighted material that is even discussed on a website could end up forcing that website to shut down.
Congress and the senators are doing the bidding of the movie, TV and music industry over piracy issues in a way that highlights the dysfunction of political Washington and crony capitalism in the United States. This is a despicable example of how corrupt Washington is, and how easy it is for influencers with dirty money to buy off elected officials.
Intellectual property law is such a complicated area. Because of a legitimate piracy problem, there’s an overreaction going on. So you and I and our freedoms get short shrift and get put aside. Yet all the fuss that we the people make is the one way we can fight back against infringements on the U.S. Constitution.