Global Sharing Culture: Are SOPA & PIPA Really Over?

Protestors in New York City campaign against SOPA and PIPA earlier this month.

by Ginnie Seger

I remember sitting on the scratchy carpet, staring at the radio, waiting.  What was I waiting for? The perfect song to complete my mixed tape. In order to record a song, I would wait patiently through advertisements, listener’s phone calls, and DJ announcements and at the right moment hit record button. Listening to this story now, you would have the sense that I am telling a story from a time long past and to a certain extent you’d be right but the issues of copyright infringement and piracy rage on.


The Stop Online Piracy Act, or as it is commonly known SOPA, and the Protect IP Act or PIPA, are both fighting to protect copyright. Both of these bills want to raise the stakes for people who violate copyright law, and eventually make the risk of violating law so great, that people abandon these businesses altogether. The way they would do this? They would identify sites that violate copyright and remove them from the Domain Name System or DNS, which essentially translates names like into code that machines read or their IP addresses. So would you still be able to access sites that violate copyright? Yes, if you typed in their IP address, but this will greatly reduce their accessibility. However, would this stop copyright infringement? Probably not.


Thus, begins the government and the internet’s game of Whack-A-Mole. The government has already seized domain names through Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE, under their Operation in Our Sites program. ICE has seized hundreds of websites, (many operating outside the U.S.) for selling counterfeit sports apparel, and streaming television shows and sporting events. If you try to access these sites a banner featuring the seal for ICE appears and informs you of the domain name seizure.  The problem with these seizures is that they hardly last long, a simple Google search of most of these seized sites direct you to another version of these sites oftentimes using a new domain such as .WS or .ME or some domain name associated with a country code such as .EU, which falls out of the jurisdiction of ICE.  With countless time and resources aimed toward ending copyright infringement, it leaves me wondering if it is worth the effort?

A Global Sharing Culture

Making my perfect mix tape was actually considered legal under the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, as long as I didn’t try to make a profit or mass-produce the tape. Yet, the internet has changed all of this. It provides a platform for sharing globally. This sense of a sharing culture has taken off, tremendously.  Platforms such as Wikipedia, Twitter, and Tumblr all exist on the ethos of sharing. Measures like SOPA and PIPA try to reverse this trend, but the historical outpouring of support against these measures demonstrates how this sharing culture has real clout.

SOPA and PIPA are on hold for now. So has the Internet won? That answer remains to be seen. This week, former U.S. senator and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) Chairman Chris Dodd told FOX News: “Those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.” I think in the game of whack-a-mole against the internet, the stakes have just been raised.

(The photo is by Phillip Stearns of Brooklyn, New York via Flickr using a Creative Commons license.)

About gseger

Ginnie Seger is a Masters Candidate in the International Media program at American University. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in broadcast journalism. During her undergraduate education, she studied abroad in both Ghana and China. Ginnie worked for WCVE PBS Richmond, as a production technician in the Virginia House of Representatives. After completing her degree in 2008, she joined the Peace Corps where she served in Kenya as a deaf education volunteer until 2011. While in the Peace Corps, she worked to create a strategic health campaign for the Kenyan deaf population. In the future she hopes to work for a non-profit organization, and is interested in the use of social media and technology in the developing world.
This entry was posted in Audio Home Recording Act, Copyright, European Union, Google, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Intellectual Property, Internet, Laws, Motion Picture Association of America, Piracy, Pirate Websites, Tumblr, Twitter, United States, Wikipedia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Global Sharing Culture: Are SOPA & PIPA Really Over?

  1. Lina T says:

    By @ecgsolutions

    Latin-Americans oppose to antipiracy rules on Internet, such as SOPA and PIPA. Many believe that these rules could even eliminate Social Networks altogether, according to a survey released by eCMetrics and eCGlobal Solutions.

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