Friday 4ALL: Understanding SOPA

Even XKCD got in on the act. - Click for source.

You may have heard the news or noticed that many of your favorite websites this week blacked out their content in protest of the legislation known as SOPA and PIPA. These laws seek to protect copyright holders by censoring sites that share their copyrighted media. There are varying opinions on the issue, but, for the most part, internet companies and their users are against these bills.

Columbia, Missouri native and social media expert Clay Shirky lays out the legislation and why it’s bad.

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For further insight into SOPA and PIPA, follow the links below as well as the video we posted on PIPA a while back here.

While protecting copyrighted material from pirating is an important issue, we must consider how this legislation as well as the media industry’s inevitable next attempt at clamping down on media sharing will affect how we use the internet in schools. Consider all the sites that depend on user-generated content such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, and countless others. Then consider how we use these same sites in our schools. The value sites that enable sharing – copyrighted or otherwise – bring to the 21st century learner’s education is invaluable.

This isn’t really a political argument as most of the bills’ original backers are now backing out of their support. However, it is important for us to stay aware and be prepared for the next round of legislation proposing to do the same things SOPA and PIPA intended to accomplish.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

A Quick Note on PIPA

I wanted to take a moment to tell you about some important legislation that could affect the way we use the internet and online tools with our students for the foreseeable future. The Protect IP Act is a bill meant “to prevent online threats to economic creativity and theft of intellectual property, and for other purposes.”

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Well, then you should check out the video below and this infographic before you make up your mind.

Basically, in an effort to stop piracy, S.968 – PROTECT IP Act of 2011 creates a situation where user sharing sites could be in great jeopardy. In other words, all those great free sites that allow students collaboration and social networking could be outlawed. If the bill passes, we could potentially have to say goodbye to Google, YouTube, Facebook, and any number of user-generated sites that private entities deem as infringing on their intellectual property without having to go to court.

Some censorship is good and even necessary, but this bill threatens the many freedoms we enjoy today on the ‘net. Don’t take my word for it, read up on this issue and contact your representative today.

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.