“We’re from the government, and we’re here to help you.” When you hear these words, run for the hills and take your possessions with you. When the government steps into to fix a problem where there is no problem, you can bet that the new law will be used by some to do things that it was never intended to do.
SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act), also known as H.R. 3261, could end free speech on the internet, all in the name of protecting us from the nebulously defined on-line piracy problem. Sounds like a noble idea until you realize that if passed, a new government enforcement agency will be established, funded by tax dollars, and filled with government bureaucrats who will have to justify their existence by investigating complaints from every malcontent trolling the internet with a copyright claim.
The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice [headed by the friend of the Black Panthers, Eric ‘Fast and Furious’ Holder], as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who requests the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 10 pieces of music or movies within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.
This piece of legislation would destroy the internet. Website owners would reluctant to post content because for fear that someone will claim copyright infringement.
We’ve seen how government agencies originally designed to help the public end up creating bigger problems. Think Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-backed agencies designed to help poor people get affordable housing. Now think the mortgage crisis of 2008, the bank bailouts, and TARP funding. A program designed to help the poor ended up hurting them and the economy.