The end to online piracy?

You wouldn’t steal a car. You wouldn’t steal a baby. You wouldn’t murder a grandma and then steal her wallet. You wouldn’t steal a movie. Piracy is a crime.

This is essentially the message of a popular anti-piracy commercial that often precedes movies on DVD and in the cinema.

Obviously only a sociopath would do things like commit murder and steal cars without remorse. There is no comparison. Of course, you will likely steal a movie if you know how to download it. Stealing a car requires significant effort, and you are likely to be caught.

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Stealing a movie, however, requires very little effort. Once you find a website that has the films available, all that is necessary is typing what film you want to watch and approximately four clicks of your mouse. You could get a virus on your computer, but the odds are low as long as you are not stupid.

The best part is that the victims are richer than you will ever be in your lifetime, so you don’t feel any guilt. Downloading movies illegally truly is a crime of convenience.

As people choose the easy way more and more, major media companies have begun to report sizable losses. Many large players in the media industry are pushing for strict legislation against piracy. This has led Congressman Lamar Smith to propose a bill to end illegal sharing of software and media by blocking all sites that distribute those materials.

The government wanted to create a firewall that would censor the Internet. The language in the SOPA bill was vague and had harsh punishments for those in violation of the law. It looked like it was from the Ayatollah of Iran.

The Internet decided to strike back. On Jan. 18 several major websites including Wikipedia, Imgur, and Reddit all blacked out to protest the proposed SOPA bill. Their homepages were replaced with images that explained their view on SOPA and messages imploring visitors to contact their congressional representatives and senators.

Google also threw in its support by blacking out the logo over the search bar and adding a link to information against SOPA.

Some websites, knowing the average person doesn’t have their representative’s office on speed dial, had easy ways to find  representatives. Wikipedia reported that four million people found out their congressman’s information. The phone lines in Washington were jammed. Most congressional aides spent the day answering phone calls.

Many newspapers have reported that numerous congressmen have pulled their support from the bill. Representative John Carter of the 31st district of Texas announced on his Twitter feed that he has withdrawn support of the bill and plans to do more research. The bill has been sent back to committee, but it is nowhere near gone.

Piracy may very well damage the entertainment industry, but their complaints about losses in profit fall on deaf ears when actors and recording artists despite the piracy make millions upon millions and CEOs of the record label make even more.

SOPA is the most serious attempt by the government to try to stop these copywrite crimes. Should it pass, thousands of web sites will have to make major changes to fall in suit with the new laws.

The Internet is a bastion of freedom and should be defended. The collective knowledge of the world is there, and it is free for all who at least have access to their local library. To censor the Internet would bring us one step closer to an Orwellian future.

Author: Ethan Mitra

Bio info coming soon!

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