SOPA in Review: Is it Necessary?

On January 18th, Wikipedia went black. Google covered its iconic logo with a black bar. Many other big name websites, such as Reddit, Tumblr, and Imgur, also went dark during the daytime in protest of the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

Though the title of the bill may indicate that the American government just wanted to eliminate digital piracy of copyrighted materials, what many people found out was that the passing of this bill would give the government the right to shut down any site in which a link to “copyrighted material” is shared. That being said, websites in danger of being shut down if the bill passed included major social network sites like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Youtube, and many more. With a vast majority of people over the age of 12 using some sort of social network, the shutdown of these sites could affect all of the users, as well as those who run the sites.

The primary concerns that led to the creation of this bill in October 2011, were the growing problem of pirated movies, music, and games. Though figures are hard to find for games and music, the movie industry is still successful even with increasing numbers of pirated films. In 2010, the movie industry reeled in a record $10.47 billion in revenue, according to People still buy movies, but because American DVD’s and Blu-Rays don’t allow users to rip the movie into a digital copy, many people resort to downloading a copy of the film to take anywhere. The video game industry still succeeds, while the already dying music industry is facing its own ups and downs.

Regardless of how the American Government attempts to stop online piracy, it will still exist. However, passing SOPA would have been the wrong way to go about it. Not only would many popular websites be unnecessarily shut down, but the internet would never be the same. People would not be able to use search engines such as Google or Bing to for help with school work. Youtube would be unavailable to entertain its users. Nobody would be able to let out their feelings on Tumblr. While piracy is a bad thing, it has yet to truly cripple any major industry, and therefore letting SOPA pass would have been a very bad idea.