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Anti-Piracy Measures Fail To Pass – What It Could Have Meant [AUDIO]

Mario Tama, Getty Images

Washington Lawmakers have abandoned plans to move on two controversial anti-piracy plans. Ok, so now what? What does that mean exactly?

Essentially, the public has won the battle but the war is just beginning. After the public outcry, both the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, are dead in the water — at least for now.

The bills had faced unprecedented criticism from regular ordinary people all the way up to the corporate level of such big companies as Google and Wikipedia, and even had President Barack Obama refusing to sign it as is. The usual vocal online community banded together across all gender, races, ages and political party lines in ways no one saw coming especially those on Capitol Hill.

The language in both of the measures sought to shut down the source of piracy through Internet Service Providers. The problem with doing this is there’s no due process in the procedure. Both the MPAA and RIAA could allege that any of your activities on your computer violates their intellectual properties, especially if you post a screen shot or video clip from a movie on your blog – even if it’s not in bad taste. Sites like Wikipedia, Craigslist and others shut down last Wednesday in protest for 24 hours. Google had a censor bar on their logo in visual protest as well.

According to Rutgers New Media Assistant Professor Aram Sinnreich, these proposals could lead to a censorship of more than just content but free speech. It could also cause ISP’s to block sites, similar to what’s done in China now that has a whole nation in an uproar. Other concerns are very real as well dealing with privacy and big brother issues.

Sinnreich says “this is a greater issue at work. Not everyone uses the content in the same way. For example, many of us have illegally downloaded a song but keep it for private use. They don’t trade or illegally sell the content. Anyone can copy a CD too. It’s a similar issue. Also, people sometimes go online to download a show because their DVR broke and they didn’t want to miss an episode of say, Parks and Recreation. It’s not a one size fits all and these lawmakers would really be throwing the baby out with the bathwater here.”

Sinnreich adds lawmakers aren’t done as pressure from Hollywood and the music industry will likely lead to a new anti-piracy measure down the road. Regardless, Sinnreich says “they really need to remember the Bill of Rights before they do anything. We have the right to a free and open internet. Granted there are people who use it for stealing – but it’s virtually impossible to get an accurate assessment.”

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