By Natalia Rodriguez
A world without the Internet is inconceivable. If it weren’t for the Internet, iSource Digital and other social media and marketing agencies here in South Florida and across the United States wouldn’t exist. However, despite its usefulness, the Internet isn’t without imperfections. One of the main criticisms of the Internet is the lack of protection for copyright work.
To fight the lack of protection, Sen. Patrick Joseph Leahy and Rep. Lamar S. Smith introduced PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011) and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), respectively.
The main goal of PIPA and SOPA were to protect against copyright infringements and piracy. SOPA allowed for the government to seek a court order to any site violating copyright laws, and for the property right holder to send a seize and desist notification, seek compensation and even petition to close the site.
These initiatives caused a public uproar. Internet giants like Google, Wikipedia and Yahoo, law experts and the general public raised their discontent against the bills claiming that these bills will kill the Internet as we know it, and that they violated the First Amendment.
To show their discontent against these bills, on Jan. 18, Wikipedia and Google joined a massive cyber protest. Wikipedia censored its English-speaking site with a message that read: “For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the US congress is considering legislation that can fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.” Google added a black block over its logo with a message that encouraged people to tell congress “please don’t censor the web!”
Many politicians also showed their concerns regarding these bills. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who was a co-sponsor of PIPA, posted to his Facebook on Wednesday that he was not going to support the bills because of the impact they could have on the Internet. He added: “A strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs, Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.”
With the digital world in chaos, the Senate has decided to “postpone” the scheduled vote for PIPA that was to take place on Tuesday, Jan.24 . As for SOPA, the House of Representatives has also backed off due to the recent uproar of protests.
Not everyone was against these two initiatives. The three most outspoken organizations in favor of SOPA and PIPA were the Motion Picture Association of America, Recording Industry Association of America, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In a letter to the New York Times editor, The Executive Vice President of the Global Intellectual Property Center, Mark Elliot, argued that websites that steal American’s innovative products threaten more than 19 million American jobs a year.
Little by little, initiatives like SOPA and PIPA have spread to Latin American Countries, where piracy is a huge problem. In Mexico, soon after SOPA was introduced, Federico Döring–a Mexican senator–proposed a similar initiative called the “Ley Döring.” This initiative also seeks to end online piracy by regulating the Internet.
It seems that we are still far from reaching a solution. As an interactive agency, it’s hard for us to take a stand. On one hand, these acts could protect our clients’ work, but on the other, our day-to-day jobs would become increasingly difficult. We rely on content from the Internet to keep us up to date on the latest digital trends, to share information with our social networks, and keep our business running smoothly. I can’t imagine a world without the Internet, and I’m not sure I want to. These initiatives have opened the doors for a solution to piracy. As they are now, the price to pay is too high.
What are your thoughts?