The Sound of Silence: An End to Cyber Freedom

Berkeley Political Review


SOPA. PIPA. To many these acronyms belong in George Orwell’s 1984. The bills, designed to counter online trading of copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods, would prohibit ad agencies from conducting business with said websites, bar search engines from providing links to these sites, and encourage court orders to Internet service providers to ban access to the infringing material.

Perhaps most terrifying to Internet voices is the second section of the bill, in which penalties are expanded to unlicensed streaming of copyrighted material. Contributors to user-content generated websites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter would face prosecution for uploading illegal material. While this may seem to be a beacon of hope for “lolcat”-haters nationwide, it would be lethal to something as innocent as a parent filming their child singing the latest (copyrighted) Justin Bieber song. CalTV Executive Director Kevin Cohen expressed concern over the potential for this media war. Cohen claims, “YouTube is created by its users and it is nearly impossible to control all of the content uploaded to the site…[They] would be hard pressed to keep out all illegally procured content. Without the ability to gate-keep, YouTube would probably be outlawed.” 3/14/2012