SOPA Act and Its potential effects on Search Engines

SOPA is an abbreviation for Stop Online Piracy Act passed by the US government on October 26th 2011 in order to protect online copyrights. The bill allows US government to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. It is built and generated from the earlier bill Protect IP Act. It allows copyright holders to seek court orders against websites accused of copyright infringement. The actions if proven guilty includes barring online advertising networks, payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the accused, barring search engines to track and mark such websites and in general seeking internet service providers to completely ban the website from being viewed that is accused.

The bill also makes unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a felony which means the viewer and the website owner could face legal ramifications for the doings. The bill is more like a internet censorship that gives immunity to internet services that voluntarily take action against websites that involves in infringement which makes it all the more profitable for copyright holders.

SOPA is actually quite different from Protect IP Act. It is more like a companion bill to the Protect IP Act that is aimed at websites or web companies hosting unauthorized content from movies, songs or software’s. Many copyright holders have been fighting against such websites for a long time now as they seem to lose their jobs or profits because of these copyright issues. Movie makers invest so much on their movies and when there are websites releasing torrent files of the movie when the movie is currently running on screen itself, people prefer to download the movies and watch without paying for it and the movie makers undergoes tremendous amount of loss. It is more of a Piracy concern that triggers the tremors between the website industries and other industries.

Website owners on the other hand believe that SOPA could break the internet itself which is quite alarming and there will be legal ramifications against almost every website invariably. They believe this act could be quite stringent and strangulate the entire web company industry.

SOPA is not just about Internet Piracy. The Act emphasizes on the fact that online infringement has become epidemic. Copyright owners feel that extreme measures ought to be taken to combat such infringes. However, for the time being they say that only “egregious” violators will be dealt with severely. But you know about politicians; that is just a false promise in order to safely pass the bill for the moment.  Those in favor specifically suggest that only rouge sites that purposely steal content and involve in the sin called illegal distribution would be targeted. But then the bill clearly states that every site that uses song clips, trailers, create GIF’s using scenes from copyrighted movies could potentially be forced to remove the content and shut down permanently. This tremendously cripples the internet and put every site in danger of violating SOPA.

SOPA would be responsible for websites to disappear:

China already has censorship issues with Google search engine. People who are against the SOPA bill can prove in many ways that the censorship rights proposed or defined in the SOPA bill isn’t much different.

To hinder foreign websites from stealing contents that belongs to a particular country or foreign sites streaming movies that belong to a specific owner, SOPA requires an internet service provider to ban or make websites disappear that is responsible for copyright issues. It states that it is ok to endanger internet security, censor sites as long as it is in the name of IP enforcement.

It makes things more complicated as it blurs the distinction between the site’s host and the members who post contents on it that eliminates internet safe harbors for shared contents that violates many other bills passed earlier regarding the same. The site owner could also be dealt with severely and legally for not monitoring his/her site or for not taking sufficient actions against members who posted copyrighted content.

If SOPA starts blacklisting domains, it means that thousands of websites associated with the offender will also get banned. Even if none of these websites apart from one particular website did not offend or violate any laws. What happened to wiki leaks could now systematically happen to many other websites in a streamlined and linked fashion as long as someone believes that IP rights have been violated.

This itself is enough to threaten the entire internet system which simply means that if this bill does get passed, every website invariably will get affected and internet might no longer exist. It will make the task for search engines even more difficult and complicated as they will have to identify such websites, mark them and ban them and if such policies are included, search engines will be very stringent banning every website for the slightest issue. Eventually search engines will become jobless as there won’t be any website only.

SOPA also creates an online monopoly. SOPA also puts barricades for advertising networks and payment sites such as PayPal. It gives copyright owners to have every authority to tell these organizations to stop funding or providing services to the accused websites. This means that these organizations or systems will have to cut down all services for the website being accused from the moment it has been accused even before the court passes its verdict and the website is proven guilty of its accusations. It financially chokes the website to death and they incur heavy losses. It creates a monopoly by allowing copyright owners to dictate terms and creating overheads or strangulating many other business firms. It also threatens popular search engines such as Google or Yahoo that fits under the bill meaning that any violation of privacy laws, even if there is one small post related to copyright terms on its search result pages, these search engine organizations also face the threat of legal ramifications. The solutions outlines in SOPA Act is draconian that forces URL’s to be removed and domains to be banned causing major trauma and strangling many business organizations that markets using the internet which includes popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo as well. All in the name of Internet Censorship and the irony is that where will internet be if this bill gets passed when you have nothing left to censor anymore?

Fundamentally somehow this has become about politics and jobs. SOPA might aid copyright owners for the time being but the future looks bleak as it imposes a great threat to the internet itself and many other business organizations as well. It might give great returns to copyright owners at present but drastically and dynamically changes our world as it will shrink and strangulate many other industries, cutting jobs and many sectors leading to worldwide unemployment. Something more like the great depression period. It manipulates our entire world to its own destruction as poverty and unemployment will spread like virus. As we know it, popular sharing sites such as YouTube wouldn’t exist only which stands as a great marketer for the same copyright owners. People often tend to develop their reputation about the copyright content and watch movies in theaters as well which brings in profits for the copyright owners. But once this gets affected, these copyright owners might thrive for the time being but in the long run even they will run out of business.

Many people and business organizations have already started to make their stand against the bill and demonstrate how drastic the cons of passing the bill could be as the US government seeks to reform the bill before making its judgment.

To summarize everything, one can simply state that SOPA will destroy our internet which include search engines as well. It doesn’t monitor and protect IP in the name of copyrights, but rather strangulates every business organizations threatening many sectors and financial inflow which makes our world economy look bleak. And without internet, ease of access to information or the first amendment of US law which is free speech will have no meaning only. There won’t be any websites to share information or market organizations after some point of time.

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Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 search engines, SOPA Act No Comments
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