It was not that long ago that people could not conceive of the benefits that would today be offered by the Internet. Unlimited access to all kinds of information, the ability to watch movies and favorite TV shows, and downloading music from today's hottest artists are just some of the things that we enjoy today completely free of charge, although how we are using to viewing and using the Internet may change a 180 degrees.
What is the Law of Copyright Piracy or SOPA Act (Stop Online Piracy Act)? It is an initiative that was proposed by the United States Congress to regulate the content posted on the Internet. The law aims to censor all pages with information or links that lead you to material protected by copyright. If passed, SOPA can turn the freedom of the Internet into a thing of the past.
To clarify, this law will have an absolute effect on everyday Internet users. Interacting with your friends on social networks and sharing information, photos, news, video, music, games as most people do on a daily basis, would under SOPA make the action of sharing any copyrighted material a criminal act and under certain circumstances users may risk losing their Internet connection or in more extreme cases, serve jail time.
Web 2.0, as it is currently known, would cease to function as the Internet’s main engine and users would not be able to freely share information without risk of legal repercussion.
In protest against this bill, which could be approved January 24 of this year, large companies globally have organized a 24 hour protest called “The Technological Blackout,” which would take place a day earlier (January 23) to exhibit the possible impact of this controversial law. Companies like Google, Twitter, Wikipedia, Foursquare, Mozilla, Yahoo, Facebook, eBay, among many others, will protest against this law but suspending service for one day, hoping to raise awareness about the effects that a proposal like SOPA would generate people's daily life.
One of the main objectives of this law is to protect and ensure that copyrights are respected and that the owners of content that is distributed on the Internet receive royalties. However, the plans to enact SOPA are so aggressive that it that it threatens to collapse the largest network of global communication.
Perhaps many are wondering why is this global concern if this is an American law? It is very simple, Internet sites are hosted within the United States, and therefore it does not matter if your website has a domain such as “.mx”. “.ca” or “.br” the host is in the U.S. and will be automatically governed by the laws of that country.
Figures released in late 2011 revealed that there are 2 billion Internet users globally. In Mexico there are an estimated 40 million users and the number increases every day. With the restrictions that SOPA would bring would greatly influence the way we interact online, create chaos and cause Internet activity levels to decrease dramatically.
The Internet is a “space” where people still feel free, where you can express yourself freely, exposing as much or as little about yourself as you wish. This is the genius of the Internet. Beyond binary data and code, it is a free society created by millions of people, and if governments want to suddenly place laws and restrictions on that society, there will be a long battle ahead.
Javier Machain is a blogger for Mijo! Brands in Mexico. Follow him at @matxain
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