The creators of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) presented the bills before congress this month in an effort for media corporations to control online piracy, copyright infringement, and intellectual property theft. Online pirating of movies, TV shows, and music has caused a serious decrease to cooperation and artists’ profits, costing millions of dollars over the past several years. According to Declan McCullagh with cnet.com news, if the bills had been passed, it would have meant that websites accused of copyright infringement would be subject to law suits and court orders to shut down. Not only that, but it would be up to the Internet providers to monitor visitor’s traffic and both websites accused of violating the infringement laws.
“Any website with user-generated content, such as Facebook or Twitter, would likely shut down because of the expectation placed by SOPA to police all the content posted on the site,” explained senior Tori Vaz, who has been watching the progress of the bills closely.
For some time it looked like the bills would pass, with more than enough support from government officials and co-operations like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), according to Stephanie Condon with CBS News. However, on the 18th of this month, there was an Internet blackout lead by Reddit (a link sharing website) and Wikipedia, in which thousands of Internet websites blocked themselves from public access for 24 hours in protest of the bills, and to stimulate what would happen had they been passed. Google.com placed a black bar over their logo, simulating the censorship that might take place. An estimated 50,000 people took part in the protest, causing most sponsors of SOPA and PIPA to pull out.
After the wide and massive protesting from Internet users, the bills were essentially killed. The new threat to Internet sharing is ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement).
Unlike SOPA or PIPA, ACTA is a movement on an international level, and has already been signed by several countries, according to accessnow.org. While originally an agreement between nations to help governments trade without fretting over counterfeits goods, it is becoming clear that the agreement would also have an effect on more minor patents across the Internet. Internet providers would need to watch their visitor’s traffic and report those who are flaunting copyright laws, just like the expectation detailed by SOPA. It will mean it will mean prison and large fines for companies that that are accused of copyright piracy if ACTA is put into effect, and websites convicted of such offenses would most likely have to stop operation.