I finally figured out what SOPA means…

SOPA, right? I mean, *scoff*… totally…

Obviously, I knew very little about this until a few days ago.  After getting through the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I returned to the blog-o-sphere to find this very interesting post from Go To Hellman, a blog I just discovered with the help of the Librarian in Black and INALJ.  Like many people (including Hellman), I thought that the bill to Stop Online Piracy would be beneficial to internet users in that it would stop online piracy. Then came rumors of mass discontent and even a Wikipedia black-out. The time has come for this ignorant person to ask herself: what’s so bad about stopping online piracy?  Are the pirates really that vocal in protecting themselves?

The findings have shocked me.  The ALA is staunchly opposed to this legislation, and this helpful guide really outlines SOPA and PIPA in terms we can understand.  From the Direct Dispatch:

What you’ll see (hopefully at a glance), is unlike PIPA or SOPA, the OPEN Act focuses solely on curbing online infringement by cutting off websites’ payment processing and ad networks. In contrast, PIPA and SOPA go further in that they also incentivize internet companies to cut off access to websites.  The tactics the latter two bills employ have a potential chilling effect on 1st Amendment free speech rights and intellectual freedom, as well as weaken cyber security, and threaten privacy.

And from the provocative Librarian in Black:

The SOPA and PROTECT IP bills scare the heck out of me.  They have the potential to allow entertainment companies to decide what information is okay to share and what information is not, which sites are okay and which are not[…]

Besides all this privacy infringement and free speech endangering, Hellman says it’ll disturb library operations on an even more fundamental level:

Libraries often use proxy servers to simplify IP authentication of their networks to digital information providers. […]

Passage of SOPA would inevitably spawn the creation of a network of proxy servers hosted in countries that reject filtering of the internet.[…]

Proxy servers meet the condition of being designed to route around filters and therefore fall into the category of services that could be subject to injunctive action under SOPA.

Basically, bad news for the way libraries allow patrons to access online databases.  He does a much better job of explaining it.

So I finally figured out what SOPA means. SOPA means a really bad and fundamentally ineffective way of stopping online piracy while simultaneously endangering the freedoms of internet users and the sharing of information that the internet (and libraries) allow.

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