If you read blogs, use social media, or are generally plugged in, you’ve probably heard of two bills that are gaining a lot of steam in the US — PROTECT-IP and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) aim to help large scale companies battle online piracy and copyright infringement (generally, a good thing) but are poised to open the door to international IP blocks, site penalties and massive limitations on what user can post, view and interact with online (terrible, terrible).
The video below outlines the possible sanctions/laws much better than I could, so please watch it if you’re at all interested in Internet censorship. While the laws are obviously beginning in America, a ‘domino effect’ would almost surely follow to Canada. This could quite seriously limit innovative startups, existing mega sites and some of the Internet’s biggest properties.
One chilling blockquote from the vid:
“Now the government could block any site, foreign or domestic [ed: this could easily mean Canadian sites, too] just for one infringing link. Sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook would have to censor their users or get shut down since they become liable for everything users post.
And ordinary users could go to jail for five years for posting any copyrighted work — even just for singing a pop song.”
Look, I know that there are many other issues in our world that dwarf ‘what we can see online’, but freedom of speech, creation and information are huge liberties that we shouldn’t give away. This is an important precedent, and Canadians that use blogs, social media – heck, anything online – should really take notice.