What are SOPA & PIPA? Explanation in a layman’s language


Wikipedia observed a 24hrs blackout protesting against SOPA

SOPA and PIPA are the buzzing words on the internet these days. For the whole of last week, I noticed lots of discussions and activities happening around these two words on almost all social networks and online forums. Websites like Wikipedia, Reddit (and 7000 others) went dark for 24 hours protesting against SOPA & PIPA. With little efforts, I managed to understand that SOPA is ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’, a law proposed in the US Congress to stop the act of ‘piracy’. Similarly, PIPA stands for ‘Protect IP Act’, a bill almost similar to SOPA moved in US Senate. Then why so much outrage against the laws proposed to ‘stop online piracy’? Apparently, these two proposed US bills can potentially bring censorship on internet. I’m sure most of us know this much with no idea about the details of the two acts.

SOPA’s progress has been delayed as the bill was recalled on Friday. It has now been sent to cold storage till ‘wider consensus’ is achieved. So the proposed law, now recalled, was bad. But how bad and why so?

Today, while doing a detailed research on the topic to find out how exactly the bill is supposed to bring censorship, I found out some excellent resources which explain the whole issue beautifully. I am sharing the resources for the help of those who want to know more but still have no idea about the minute details of these two bills.

Check the video by Salman Khan of Khan Academy¬†that does a brilliant job in describing the cons of two bills in a lucid manner. If you do not possess the technical knowledge of how internet works (Don’t worry, even the US politicians who support SOPA & PIPA have admitted that they don’t understand how internet works), this video is for you.

Those who have more time, you should this article from Gizmodo.com ‘What Is SOPA?’. A bit geeky stuff but gives a clearer picture. It lists out potential hazards of such laws with examples.

If the intention of the bills is to stop piracy, then SOPA and PIPA are definitely not the answer. To solve the problem of piracy, the cause of piracy needs to be addressed. In the current form, SOPA & PIPA don’t seem to be doing that rather it stands as a grave threat to the idea of free speech and freedom.

You can read the full text of the bill here: Stop Online Piracy Act 2011-12

What are your views on the proposed legislation? Share your views in the comments.

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