Last year, both the United States Senate and House of Representatives introduced bills intended to prevent illegal electronic dissemination of copyrighted material. These two bills (referred to as PIPA and SOPA) have led to a great deal of discussion about the rights of copyright holders and the ability of the Internet to function as an open and effective tool for continued innovation.
In brief, the bills propose a system under which websites and their owners would be responsible for all content uploaded by users and would have to monitor all uploaded content for copyright infringement. In addition, these companies would also have to remove links, advertising, or search results that point to websites on a government list of blocked sites.
Both bills were expected to come to a vote in the early part of 2012 but, after an outpouring of negative reactions online, as well as a protest “blackout” of major websites such as Wikipedia, and strong opposition from Google, Twitter, Craigslist, and others, they have been shelved for the time being. While this issue will temporarily fall out of headlines, the underlying problems it seeks to address will continue.
While we, as a technology department, respect the rights of copyright holders, we are also keenly aware of need for innovation and advancement in the ways we communicate, learn, and teach others. As such, we are concerned about legislation that broadly and vaguely defines the responsibilities of website owners and end users. To create a law that addresses these issues, we believe that unilateral action is ineffective and only collaboration between all parties involved will lead to an equitable and effective solution.
If you’re interested in learning more about SOPA and PIPA, please see the links provided below. These sources were used in the creation of this article and are a good starting point for learning more about this issue.
We are also interested in what you think about technology, innovation, and copyright. You can let us know how you view the issue and what solutions you think might work by using the comment box below.