Students speak out on Anti-Piracy laws

January 26, 2012



Molly Bowman
Staff Reporter


New anti-piracy legislation drafted by Congress has caused Internet users to form the largest online protest in history, according to sopastrike.com.


On Jan. 18, Fight for the Future, a non-profit group that works to fight for online freedoms, urged supporters to blackout their websites for 12 hours to protest the two anti-piracy bills in the House and in the Senate that were voted on Jan. 24.


The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and Protect Intellectual Property Act, known as PIPA, were created in the hopes to prevent websites from selling pirated material like movies and music, according to cbsnews.com.


Jason Pigg, an associate professor of political science, said the online protesting has already had a big effect on Congress’ decision to pass these bills because several senators and representatives have already backed down from their initial support.


“I think it’s pretty impressive to see the technology industry mobilize around a big political issue,” Pigg said. “They have done this to some extent before, but this is the first time they have really made a concerted effort to influence specific legislation.”


Some Tech students like Philip Raeisghasem, a freshman music major, said he was completely against the act at first but now he thinks there needs to be some modifications to it so it can accomplish what it is set out to do.


“I think the intentions are good, but maybe the people who proposed it aren’t as aware of what the Internet community is all about as they could be,” Raeisghasem said. “But it should be a positive addition for the creative industry after a few more changes are made.”


Pigg said one of the larger issues is this act could influence other countries to adopt legislation similar to this if these bills were passed.


“When you look at a country which promotes free speech rights and free media like the United States, and we’re seen as setting up a law, which in the end amounts to censoring material one way or another, I think it sets a bad example for other countries,” Pigg said. “It allows them to justify Internet censorship by saying the United States does this as well.”


Anthony Griffin, a sophomore math major, said that piracy is a big issue in the United States but there are positive and negative things about this bill to take into consideration.


“There are some things out there that are helpful in taking down [websites] but there are things like file sharing that allow you to download songs for free and that [SOPA] is not going to help [me],” Griffin said.


The Motion Picture Association of America said that media companies have lost billions of dollars due to Americans watching pirated movies and shows on the Internet, according to wsj.com.


One of the main concerns with this bill is that it focuses on foreign websites from selling pirated content. Representative Darrell Issa, proposed a new bill called Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, or OPEN, that will make the International Trade Commission in charge of anti-pirating efforts instead of the Justice Department, according to cbsnews.com.
Pigg said he thinks that this is the route Congress might end up taking.


“It’s interesting because that legislation has a Republican and Democrat co-sponsor, so it seems to be this issue that’s not strictly partisan,” Pigg said. “It’s a difficult issue, so I think Congress is trying to come up with a solution that works.”



Email comments to mmb041@latech.edu.


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