Students Speak Out About SOPA
BC students speak out about the House bill, Stop Online Piracy Act
January 27, 2012
Though two controversial Congressional bills outlawing Internet piracy have been put on hold in response to online protests, BC students remain concerned and are digging deeper to understand how SOPA and PIPA could affect them.
On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid canceled the Jan. 24 procedural vote on the Senate measure, Protect IP ACT (PIPA), and Lamar Smith, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, said his panel would postpone consideration of the House bill, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
BC Students Browsing the Internet
If passed, SOPA would allow the Department of Justice and copyright owners to seek court orders against those accused of copyright infringement.
Another concern people have with SOPA is that it would prevent online search engines, such as Google, from listing certain websites that contain free access to copyrighted material.
Autumn Arnold, a junior from Fort Chiswell, Va., said she doesn’t see anything wrong with the bills if they are strictly to stop piracy.
“My only worry is that this could be the start of other things being censored on the Internet,” said Arnold.
John “Big John” Bergner, a junior from Mooresville, N.C., said he feels the same way.
“I think it’s a kick start; they’ll start censoring this stuff and then it will go to more things, and then more things, and then soon there won’t be much to do,” said Bergner.
Whether the students who were interviewed were for the legislation or against it, most of them had one thing in common: fear.
“It’s the same fear that people have been having since the American government started—fear that the government is becoming too powerful,” said Derek “Schwetty” Wright of Tazewell, Va., a Spring 2009 graduate of BC and the Resident Hall Director of Rish.
According to Google, Internet users and entrepreneurs are against these bills because they would censor the Web and place harmful regulations on American businesses. Other people are against the bills because they fear their freedom of expression is being attacked.
On Wednesday, Jan. 18, people found themselves unable to access Wikipedia and other websites that were “blacked out” in protest of the two acts.
Wikipedia’s landing page gave an explanation for the blackout protest:
"Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge. For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia."
After reading that statement, users were encouraged to contact their local representatives.
Wright and David Somerville, a freshman from Bluefield, Va., did not contact their representatives, but they signed a petition that has been circulating on Facebook, a social networking site that doesn’t support the legislation.
Other sites that participated in the blackout protest against the bills include Reddit, BoingBoing, Mozilla, WordPress, TwitPic, and MoveOn.org.Google.
Some in support of the legislation include The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the music, film, fashion and pharmaceutical industries, in addition to various high-end brand name manufacturers.
“I don’t think people should get so worked up about it,” said Wully Rojas, a freshman from Woodbridge, Va. “Sure it’s important and we do play a role because it’s a democratic country, but at the end of the day if they pass it we’ll adjust, and if they don’t, it’s still the same.”