(Photo taken from Ars Technica.)
“… Ordinary users could go to jail for five years for posting any copyrighted work — even just singing a pop song.”
It may sound ridiculous now, but can you imagine not being able to sing your favorite song in the presence of any video recorder? For those who haven’t heard, the US government is slated on January 24 to vote on whether to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). These two proposed laws, if passed, can shut down any website for posting copyrighted material, condemn them from cyberspace, and even send these people to jail without due process. (For a better explanation of this, we highly recommend you take 4 minutes and 20 seconds of your time and watch the awesome video below created by the group Fight for the Future.) What’s worse is that if these two laws allow American authorities to arrest any offenders and block network service providers pretty much anywhere in the world. So yeah, while this is a bill proposed abroad, this affects us too.
Is there anything we can do to stop these bills from being passed if you’re not an American citizen? Yes, and it starts here. In the internet. Let social media help us spread the word. The same way the Arab Spring liberated much of the Middle East; the same way Occupy Wall Street has spread like wildfire in America; and the same way the family of Noemi Lagman was able to track her down through Facebook after she going missing for 4 days. Let us all use the internet and let our opinions be heard. Either that, or we get ready to pay royalty fees the next time we sing Happy Birthday on camera.