SOPA: Sucking Less but Still Sucking


By Charlie Ecenbarger

Just before the fall semester ended we gave you a glimpse of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and what it was going to destroy internet as we know it. In the last month there has been more than a few developments in the story and it seems as if things are turning around for the better.

Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the author of SOPA, has declared he would remove the DNS-Blocking provision from the bill. What does this mean, you ask? It means that the fed can't censor the internet – and neither can Internet Service Providers since the provision allowed the same type of power over what can be viewed off of their bandwidth.

For example in the Syracuse area the only two internet providers are Time Warner and Verizon. Under SOPA either company would have the power to block out access to their competition's websites, effectively censoring the freedom of the internet and information. On a larger scale if there was a series of websites that the federal government did not agree with, let's say the Occupy Movement, the feds could order their websites shut down by claiming copyright infringement.

Yeah. I don't get it either.

SOPA was championed as a bill that would put a stop to foreign countries infringing on American copyright. The problem is the language used in the bill gives way to more censorship than anyone who regularly uses the internet would be happy with; Let alone anyone who just enjoys their own personal freedoms.

The Center for Democracy and Technology has a list well over 600 people and companies who oppose SOPA. Among them is SU alumni Dennis Crowley along his company Foursquare, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and the list goes on.

A few of the opponents to SOPA have even planned a blackout which would simulate the effects on the internet if the bill was to pass.,, among others will be going dark on the January 18 in protest of SOPA.

I find this to be a very powerful statement, although some of the more interesting moves are by video game companies. The wildly popular game Minecraft, which has over 20 million players, will shut down its website and servers for the day to simulate the effects. Riot Games, who developed and host servers for the popular battle arena game League of Legends, will also be shutting down their operation for the day.

Gamers are a ruthless bunch and given the amount of people playing these games, I'm sure not all of them know what is going on. The backlash that we may see when these two games go dark could be huge. I think it will inspire those who don't know about SOPA to educate themselves and give those who are informed a reality check of what SOPA really means to the future of the internet. This goes for everyone participating in the blackouts. Some of the sites who are taking part in the blackouts are very popular with huge, dedicated followings. The authors of SOPA are already starting to back down due to the outcry – I don't foresee the bill lasting much longer after the blackouts hit.

A full list of blackout websites can be found here. The Center of Democracy and Technology's list of opponents can be found here.