Major web sites including Craigslist, Wikipedia and Reddit went dark starting on midnight January 18th in protest over the controversial SOPA/sopa/">Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA). The United States Senate will vote on the bill starting January 24th.
The anti-piracy Legislation is supported by many media, labor and manufacturing companies as it is seen as a way to curb piracy while online companies oppose it and view it as censorship and stifling innovation. A good primer on the pros and cons is here.
Other web sites, including Google, supported its online brethren through other means. Google blacked out its logo as seen below:
Both sides of the SOPA debate can be seen in various articles across the Internet. According to Politico, two of the major issues in the legislation is one that would allow the movie and television industry to sue companies when its web sites support pirated material and another which would allow the government to block certain web searches.
In addition, there is concern that SOPA will suprress online journalism. The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) provides a compelling argument against the passage of SOPA:
…our members use the Internet in ways that could be construed to violate SOPA,
and that’s not acceptable. Whether utilizing content contributed by third parties, stepping outside the direct reporter-source interaction to acquire and use information from websites around the world, or augmenting our stories through the use of multimedia previously unavailable to print-only publications, ASNE members continue to change the way news is presented. We fear that SOPA will restrict our ability to engage in these activities and stifle our capacity to innovate when we most sorely need the freedom to do so.
This past November, Zuffa head Lorenzo Fertitta sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith in support of SOPA. Smith introduced the bill in the House of Representatives. Fertitta’s main concern in the letter was the illegal streaming of its PPVs. “This is the issue that keeps us up at night and, we are very concerned about the continued theft of our shows,” wrote Fertitta.
There are interesting arguments on both sides of the SOPA debate. The blackout by the collective of online sites is a definite attention getter for this piece of legislation. The UFC has always been proactive in protecting its intellectual property rights and the piracy of its PPVs. For it to support this legislation makes sense. But, it seems that the primary debate lies outside of the PPV piracy issue.
What could SOPA mean for online journalism…and places like this where third party sources and information from other web sites are used.
We will see how the vote plays out next week.
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UFC heavyweight Shane Carwin came out against the legislation.
Member Since: 10/11/06
While it is true that without the current UFC owners the sport would not have grown to it's current level. Without the internet and peer to peer sharing of content and information there would be no sport to save.
We the people came together and found a way to share our love for a sport that was trying to be squashed out by the Government. Now the money made from that survival effort is going into bills that are designed to make sure that doesn't happen again. If the Government wants it gone or a big company wants the site gone it is gone. We need to protect our freedoms in the real and virtual world and I do not support SOPA.
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