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Why are PIPA and SOPA Facing So Much Hostility?

For those of you who are not aware about PIPA and SOPA, they are two bills which were passed to ensure the internet safety of netizens and also to curb online piracy. PIPA stands for Protect IP Act and SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act. Although the government introduced these acts to prevent intellectual property theft through piracy and protect the anonymity of the online user, they have not foreseen the other implications these acts might have.

What Exactly Does PIPA and SOPA Do?

PIPA and SOPA might help you to shop without being tracked, but there are other serious consequences of these bills that might affect you. For one, they have authorized the usage of several methods which allows ISP and the government to take action against the sites that are infringing the copyright laws and user information collection laws.

One of the tools that were used to implement these laws is the DNS cutting method. This method allowed the lawmakers to cut the domain name server records that redirect the user to the site infringing the laws. Similarly, several other methods such as closely monitoring the potentially illegal sites, monitoring usage reports and the media sharing that is taking place, etc were considered, but they were not put into effect because of the opposition these bills are facing.

What Are the Unforeseen Consequences of PIPA and SOPA?

Although these bills were passed with a good intention, there are many consequences which could potentially bring down companies. For example, the DNS cutting method would completely prevent access to the site, if the site was found to be violating the copyright laws with a portion of its content. This is legally and morally unfair considering the amount of business that the site might lose in the process. Also, the site’s employees, who depend on the company’s business to earn their living, will also be affected.

Sites which are relying on content from their users also have a serious problem. They have to carefully and meticulously scan all the data that comes from their users before uploading them. A point that both lawmakers and the common man agree upon is the lack of clarity in copyright laws. So, it might be very difficult to decide if the data published online is in accordance to the copyright laws. Even a small mistake could dearly cost the company and the users also.

Not the Ideal Solution

Even if a portion of the website is violating the privacy and copyright laws, the whole site has to be taken down according to these bills. This is not the right approach. This approach is similar to evacuating an entire locality just because an occupant of one house has a highly contagious disease. Shutting down the house is fine, by why shut down the entire locality?

There are customers who pay for content from sites for a particular period of time. If those sites are shut down, the money paid by the subscribers will go waste. Since the site is down, the payment gateways like VISA and PayPal would also be down. So, the subscription money cannot be returned as well.

Who are for and against these Bills?

The implementation of these bills seems to be a battle between the Silicon Valley and the Hollywood studios. Since the studios will be most benefited by the anti piracy laws, they are vociferously supporting it.

However, the Silicon Valley companies stand to lose the most, if a site is shut down just because a part of the site violated the content law. Not only is it a financial loss, but it will also spoil the reputation that a company has worked so hard to build it.

The Obama government has been trying to add some amendments to make the bill more acceptable. It remains to be seen if the amendments will change the minds of the people against them.

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