What you should know about PIPA/SOPA

by Taryn Wobbema

Public outcry has had quite the effect on PIPA/SOPA in Congress. After black-outs, etc., both bills have been buried. But what if the legislation comes back in another version? There’s been plenty of chatter to encourage Internet users to climb on the anti-SOPA/PIPA bandwagon, but it’s important to know why, right?

In a nutshell, the bills are about censoring online users from sharing information with one another. Google and Wikipedia would be harmed because, as vehicles by which users share information, they probably wouldn’t be able to shoulder the cost of policing users. Here are a couple of other resources that could help the average citizen understand what PIPA and SOPA are and why they created such an uproar.

In a TED talkposted this month, Clay Shirky explains the history of legislation regarding intellectual property, as initiated by the media industry. Here’s an excerpt:

“Because the biggest producers of content on the Internet are not Google and Yahoo!, they’re us, we’re the people getting policed. Because in the end, the real threat to the enactment of PIPA and SOPA is our ability to share things with one another. So what PIPA and SOPA risk doing is taking a centuries-old legal concept, innocent until proven guilty, and reversing it. You can’t share until you show us that you’re not sharing something we don’t like. Suddenly, the burden of proof for legal versus illegal falls affirmatively on us and on the services that might be offering us any new capabilities. And if it costs even a dime to police a user, that will crush a service with ”00 million users … The real effects of SOPA and PIPA are going to be different than the proposed effects.” -Clay Shirky

Here’s a Q&A guide from the Wall-Stree Journal.

And here’s another breakdown by Politico.

-Taryn Wobbema