Every once and a while, the government does something that causes a stir among college students. Right now, it’s the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act (PIPA), and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
SOPA and PIPA have been endorsed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), as they were, “designed to tackle the problem of foreign-based websites that sell pirated movies, music and other products,” as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
In mid-January, a slew of websites protested the acts by imposing a “blackout” on their users. And thus, college students began to complain.
Reddit, Wikipedia, Tumblr and WordPress were among the 15,000 participating websites in the blackout, and the strike garnered 10,000,000 signatures, according to the Fight for the Future SOPA strike website. In response to the blackout, 13 senators backed away from the bill and five of the co-sponsors dropped their support.
But if you haven’t already noticed, MegaUpload, a popular video streaming and downloading website, was shut down shortly after the SOPA protests. And as CBS reported, the MPAA wanted to tackle this piracy giant from the start, turning over evidence they compiled to the FBI to aid in the take-down.
SOPA and PIPA are not the solutions to stop online pirating. Online pirating is a problem, but censoring the Internet is an impediment to free speech and the creativity it fosters. The government should not be able to shut down websites for merely linking pirated content.
Net neutrality has become in integral part of our lives as students. It’s vital that the Internet remains this way. The availability of knowledge and the global community the Internet has created should never be stalled by the government.
We’re not going to lie, though. We’ve all watched the 75 minutes of free streaming that MegaUpload allowed, waited 30 minutes, then came back to finish our movie, free on the Internet.
We didn’t buy all the music on our respective iPod’s or Zune’s for the outlandish prices of $1.29 a song, either. That’s what online converters were made for, right?
However, we’ve found that the important lesson to learn from this debate isn’t whether we should be considered pirates for downloading these songs or watching “Gossip Girl” online.
What we should be concerned about is that people our age, and people in general, only pay attention to the news when it’s going to directly affect them, or take away their entertainment.
Our problem is that right now, people seem to be getting upset about things that they don’t really understand—until it’s too late.