By Jason Garrison
If you attempted to research something on Wikipedia, Wednesday, you witnessed part of a national protest. Before today, SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) along with PIPA (Protect IP Act) was an idea being kicked around in Congress, but on Wednesday several of the world’s largest Internet sites either shut down or put up links to protest the bill.
The idea of the two bills is this—the federal government would give power to copyright holders to take down open source sites (sites that allow anyone to post) whenever they feel copyright laws have been violated. No trial. No due process. The burden of proof would be on the accused party. With this kind of legislation, sites like Youtube, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Wikipedia, and Craigslist would become drastically different.
This bill is a bad idea. Consider the following four reasons SOPA and PIPA bills should be abolished:
- SOPA and PIPA limit creativity. This bill limits the creativity of open-source artists on the internet. It could potentially take away your opportunities to post material on the web, or view material that others have posted.
- We would lose free web content. Most would agree that piracy is not kosher. Larger sites, however, would almost constantly be under heavy duress dealing with lawsuits from copyright holders. Our society is grateful for and dependent on the free material offered by Google, Wikipedia, and other sites.
- SOPA and PIPA take away individual liberty. Hobbes and Locke’s social contract theories—which the founders of our Constitution drew ideas from—explain that citizens can give up liberty for protection, or they can give up protection for liberty. In this case? We are managing to give up both. The government is becoming secretive, while copyright holders police your creative ingenuity.
- The bills are unconstitutional. Need I mention the First Amendment? Our freedom of speech is being trampled on in the verbiage of this bill. It surprises me that this bill has stayed in Congress as long as it has.
As American citizens we ought to be concerned with bills that take away core freedoms—and SOPA and PIPA fit that bill. This proposal moves us toward state censorship practiced by some of the most oppressive regimes in the world.
This is my country, and I can’t stand by and watch my liberties endowed by my Creator being stripped away.
Petitions are available to sign on Google, Wikipedia, and a myriad of other websites opposing the bill.