“Hey, kid, if you think all this bill stuff in unimportant, wait until they start washing your digital mouth out with SOPA!” Image courtesy thefreshxpress.com
Written by Izzy Woods for Our End of the Net
Just when you thought your internet use was going to continue as before after the US Congress halted debate on two contested anti-online piracy bills, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), Canada is going o see if it can strike a home run with their own version, the Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-11.
What was all the fuss about? In the US, the bills were designed to stop and therefore block access to websites that contained unauthorized use of copyright material. The owners of online content and the US government were looking to receive powers to go for court orders that would shut down websites that connected with piracy.
Further, while searching online for the best 0% balance transfer you might end up looking for websites that had disappeared overnight. Businesses like PayPal would not be able to do business with online pirates and the search engines would be expected to close access to any websites inside the US that infringed the laws.
What happened with SOPA?
You probably read about the backlash that hit the US government. Wikipedia and thousands of other websites went dark for a day. Seven million signed Google’s online document against the bill. The US government realized that more people were against the bill than for it and that even if they tried to force it through it might become the most unpopular bill in the year that the presidential election is up and running. This forced the government to look at the people’s real thoughts on the issues and they were forced to remove the bill from current progression. This doesn’t mean it won’t come back, because it will, later, under a different guise, hopefully watered down somewhat and with the causes of contention removed.
What has Canada had to say about it all?
On 29th September, 2011, the Conservative Government in Canada, having been recently re-elected, quickly reintroduced their adaptation of the US bill. Previously known as Bill C-32, this new version is known as Bill C-11. As this new government easily holds the majority of seats, they can easily pass the bill without too much trouble, especially if they manage to sneak it past the Canadian people.
It’s not that people are for piracy; it’s the breakdown of the person’s individual rights when surfing the internet that they are mostly worried about, wondering if Big Brother’s 1984 has really arrived, even if a little late.
This Canadian version is slightly more flexible than the previous attempt, but it still runs over the wrong side of people’s rights. It contains articles that are far too strict and will lead innocent people into the path of the law, by mistake.
Canadians need to speak up quickly and gain the same coverage that the SOPA and PIPA bills brought in the US.
The downside to legislation
It cannot be a coincidence that one of the largest file sharing websites, Megaupload, was removed from the internet almost as soon as the bills were halted in the US. Many celebrities came forward claiming to be users of Megaupload. Were the US government flexing their legal muscle or showing who really is in charge? After all, the first four arrests were made in New Zealand, on behalf of the US government.
How you might be affected
If you like ripping CDs to play on your MP3 player, you won’t be able to if this law gets through the Canadian government. Have you recently unlocked an eBook? You won’t be able to from the date this bill is passed. If you want to unlock your smartphone but can’t afford the usual high prices for unlocking, going to someone who might charge less will become illegal.
If you get accidentally accused of internet piracy your ISP provider can take down your website and terminate any agreement with you even though you haven’t been tried or convicted. You don’t even need to have a court date set for your trial.
What can you do?
Individually, you can’t do a lot, but if you help your friends and family to write to your elected representatives in the government, they will be affected if they receive enough letters and are forced into action.
You won’t have the power of Google or Wikipedia, but if enough people bind together against the act, then maybe a sensible version can be redrafted.