The internet has witnessed a major outrage and protests during the last month, January 2012. As netizens (internet citizens) have described it; the internet as we know it will no longer exist. And today, we’re talking about the causes of this outrage: SOPA , the Stop Online Piracy Act.
SOPA was proposed by a Texas Republican called Lamar Smith (who shortly became the most hated man on the internet) in the House of Representatives in October 2011. Frankly speaking, SOPA was hugely backed up by the American film and music industry as they are claiming the loss of billions of dollars due to illegal content sharing and distribution performed by file sharing websites such as Megaupload, Rapidshare, Fileserve…, torrent websites such as ThePirateBay, Sumotorrent, Torrentjunky… and other types of websites such as forums and social networks… the internet community response to this claim was sharing a photo of the famous American rapper Lil’ Wayne sitting on the top of a money mountain wearing gold chains and designer labeled clothes along with a sarcastic caption “guys! You make the artists poor when you share their music for free!”
If SOPA went through, their prosecutors are to withhold the right to shut down any website accused of copyright violation. Megaupload, the famous file sharing website was the first victim of SOPA as it was shut down and had its owners put under arrest. The owner of the company, Kim Schmitz, is facing an up to 20 years jail sentence. Therefore, “rogue” websites are to be banned from any activity; Google won’t have the right to reference them or let them subscribe to their AdSense/Adword services. Also PayPal and eBay in addition to other services wouldn’t have the right to pay them money or advertise for them.
Anonymous’s reaction to SOPA
As I mentioned earlier, there was a major outrage among netizens against this act, but American companies as well have witnessed the same effects. At first, companies such as Nintendo, Electronic Arts and Sony have supported SOPA since they were also damaged by the act of piracy, but ass they’ve seen the reactions of their fans and public, they backed away and withdrew their support. This was the first blow to SOPA’s guts. Another blow was the threat of a total internet “blackout” that was initiated by a group of hackers called “Anonymous” who gained a massive popularity during the last year after their threat of hacking Facebook (but that’s another topic) then followed by Wikipedia’s voluntary 24 hours blackout. Wikipedia wanted to make people understand how it is going to be if SOPA went through and if Wikipedia has to shut down for real.
SOPA is DEAD
Fortunately, Wikipedia’s attempt has hit the spot and people, especially students, freaked out and launched into major protests, petitions signing and calling and flooding elected officials with emails asking them to oppose SOPA. What made the protester’s position stronger was president Obama’s refusal to support SOPA. Taking Obama’s objection as a finishing blow, Lamar Smith has withdrawn his controversial law project on the 13th of January 2012 only to announce 4 days later that he will come up with a “friendlier” version which later is going to be known as ACTA, but that’s another storyJ.