Should copyright laws be tightened, or is the US government going too far?

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A statement made on Monday by the Wikimedia Foundation has informed us that Wikipedia is staging the first ever blackout of the site in protest to anti-piracy legislation under consideration in Congress.

Lucky for us media hounds addicted to trawling the ever expanding pages of Wikipedia, at this stage the site will only be blacking out for 24 hours. This will begin Australian EST at 4pm today. So, will we all be switching back to searching the library for books and asking mum and dad those increasingly important questions? Probably not, actually I would say most definitely not in this internet obsessed age.

Wikipedia announce that they are protesting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate- that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not alone in their fight to ensure these acts do not pass. Last month the founders of Google, Twitter, Yahoo! and other internet giants also expressed concern over the two drafts, saying in an open letter that they would “give the US government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran”* Not something that we want to happen to here in Australia!

Although many are screaming outcry at the proposed legislation, it has won the backing of industries that are suffering greatly from piracy. The industries that are in favour of the acts passing include the music industry, Hollywood, the US chamber of commerce and others.

It is obvious why the music companies and movie studios are in favour of the act, every year America’s Institute of Policy Innovation estimates the copyright theft costs around $58 billion.**

One of the major reasons why there has been such a huge public objection to the possible introduction of SOPA is that it makes any website responsible for content that others have posted online and requires the website to monitor and places them responsible for enforcing copyright protection. Seems a little harsh if you ask me!

Sue Gardner the Executive Director of Wikimedia claims that “Moreover, SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. All around the world, we’re seeing the development of legislation intended to fight online piracy, and regulate the Internet in other ways, that hurt online freedoms. Our concern extends beyond SOPA and PIPA: they are just part of the problem. We want the Internet to remain free and open, everywhere, for everyone.”  Hear, hear sister!

Do you agree with the proposed legislation or do you think America is going a little far with this one and limiting our right to free speech??

* Sourced from (www.abcasispacificnews.com)

** Sourced from (http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2012/s3409965.htm)

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