Jamie Wang, Contributor
Although the first thing that comes to mind when I read the word SOPA is the image of a warm comforting bowl of minestrone; the second thing that comes to mind really does frighten me.
I would definitely say that I am addicted to the Internet. Though I hate to admit it, I’m the type of person who turns on their laptop first thing in the morning and feels disconnected when my phone doesn’t instantly receive all my emails and Facebook notifications. I feel privileged to live in this period of internet abundance and freedom. I’d like to assume then, that practically everyone who has access to the Internet in the modern day has committed some form of copyright infringement or has expressed their opinions far too strongly in a public sphere. These things may not be morally sound, but to consider them as crimes punishable by the removal of rights goes against my understanding of modern liberty.
I’d say that I grew up in a time where the Internet was still a largely experimental form of media and I’ve already seen many changes; however, none have really brought about that much concern. Things however, are changing far more rapidly in the recent months. Although many may be unaware, there have been various bills similar to the American SOPA proposed at Canada’s House of Commons which strive to alter Internet freedom. I strongly feel that most of the people writing and supporting these bills do not fully understand the concept of Internet freedom. Yes, of course there is a distinction between use and abuse, but some of the measures that governments seek to take are rather drastic. While it does not surprise me in any way, I find it rather ironic that the main supporters of these types of bills are the extravagantly rich and overpaid leaders of the entertainment industry. They are far more concerned with the financial issues of copyright infringement than with the protection of intellectual property. Money is shown to be disproportionally superior to conceptual creativity.
The most recent news in Canada concerning this issue is Bill C11, which was re-proposed late last year. More coverage has come out about this following the controversy surrounding SOPA, resulting in attempts to amend the bill to make it more like the American version. Bill C11 is essentially a piece of copyright reform legislation which seeks to prevent piracy and copyright infringement. Its goal is to target sites that enable any sort of infringement, not just those that commit the act. The new SOPA-like provisions, made at the demand of the Canadian entertainment industry, include both the blocking of websites and access to websites, and the “enabler provision” which expands liability allowing more sites to be targeted. I have no doubt that attempts to enforce these types of restrictions will lead to public protest. Internet freedom is no longer considered a privilege by the majority of users; it is seen as a right. It will be very difficult to remove or restrict something that has been so present and so largely unlimited.