Behind the Stop Online Piracy Act Bill (SOPA): Copyright, Censorhip, and Free Speech

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Behind SOPA: Copyright, Censorship and Free speech At the beginning of 2012, a series of coordinated protests occurred online and offline against Stop Online Piracy Act Bill (SOPA) that expands U.S. law enforcement’s ability to combat online copyright infringement. As this protest involved many influential websites like Google and Wikipedia, it certainly draws national attention on SOPA. Whether censorship should be used online against online materials infringing property rights, as included in SOPA, is the controversial issue. Even though SOPA eventually was terminated by the Congress, things behind SOPA cause further debates. The relationship between censorship, free speech and copyrights in this bill is worth discussing. In SOPA,…show more content…
Internet companies argued that such law enforcement is online censorship and tried to imply the entire online community would blackout after the approval of SOPA by blackout their websites 24 hours. The most controversial part of SOPA is its mandatory filtering of materials uploaded by users, which is considered online censorship. Early in 1998 America adopted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, know as DMCA which criminalized unauthorized copy but also created a “safe harbors”. Safe harbors explicitly protected search engines and social networks from prosecution for users’ actions. (Herman, 73) In DMCA host websites are not responsible for users’ copyright violation behaviors and if host websites move users’ illegal materials online after they received notice they will not be charged. But in SOPA these host websites are responsible for everything on their website. They need to filter information users want to express before publication to prevent copyright infringement. DCMA allows material from individuals to be published first and if any materials violate copyrights host websites will remove it but the procedures in SOPA is different. SOPA intends to prevent copyright infringement by expand the influence of copyright violation to include both users who upload illegal materials and host websites. In SOPA host websites are
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