Support for SOPA misplaced
THE COLLEGIO STAFF SPEAKS OUT AGAINST INTERNET CENSORSHIP
THE COLLEGIO STAFF
As an organization that is reliant on the free flow of information, the Collegio staff would like to formally oppose the SOPA and PIPA legislation.
In a new generation of technology, policies are often implemented long after practices are already in place. By now, many businesses, artists and individuals are dependent upon the free flow of information. News outlets, bloggers and individual citizens rely on free sharing to become eyewitnesses to events they would not have ordinarily been able to view.
For instance, although all broadcasts of NBA games are copyrighted, when something noteworthy happens such as a fight breaking out on court or a fan being chosen to participate in a halftime game, thousands of fans with smartphones and instant Internet access would break the law by filming and uploading these videos. In turn, news outlets and bloggers view it, cover it and publish stories all before the game is even over. If this practice was to be made illegal, literally hundreds of people who had Tweeted, Facebooked, or linked to independent videos in any way would have violated the SOPA law, in turn making all the websites that hosted these videos or coverages responsible in turn making them susceptible to prosecution.
The Collegio runs a website which allows users to comment on stories. If those comments were to include links to copyrighted material, the Collegio would be responsible for that post. As a smaller website, it is feasible that we could moderate every post we get on our site. However, larger sites that have thousands of posts and comments every day cannot and should not have to devote their time and resources to sifting through individual posts.
The responsibility of law enforcement lies with the law, not private companies. If the government was to make the reposting of copyrighted material illegal, it is their time and resources that should be used. Home Depot is not legally responsible for a customer that brings cocaine into their store, nor should Twitter be responsible for a user Tweeting a copyrighted item.
As a news outlet that survives due to the creative and unique work of our staff members, we are sympathetic to groups that are suffering as a result of piracy or shareware. We would not be able to provide the services that we provide if they were stolen and published elsewhere without our consent and without reimbursement. However, the Collegio staff, as well as most journalistic organizations, is a steadfast supporter of the First Amendment. We feel that this legislation puts too much trust in the government to not its their power.
Because this bill is broadly worded and the definition of what would technically merit legal action is vague, it leaves the Internet vulnerable to censorship by the government.