Web companies & users weigh in on legislation to censor internet - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Web companies and users weigh in on legislation to censor internet


Each day, millions of people log onto Facebook, YouTube, or Google to share videos, pictures, and music. The bulk of them are young people. Middle school kids said they know a lot about the bills known as SOPA and PIPA.

"I heard about it a month or so two ago, that they're going to censor the internet," Carolina Villavicencil, Cedar Falls eighth grader, said.

"They don't want you to post videos with music in it that's copyrighted," Charles Potter-Wehr, sixth grader, said.

The aim of both bills is to protect copyrighted property, like music, movies, or prescription drugs, from online pirating or counterfeiting. That includes sites which illegally sell drugs without a prescription, or pose as a reputable site and attempt to sell inferior goods. But it would also prohibit a budding songstress from recording a version of her favorite Britney Spears song, and uploading it on YouTube.

"You won't be able to do anything, because music is a big part of our world," Potter-Wehr said.

Facebook, Google, and YouTube have all spoken out against the proposed legislation, citing fears that it gives the government too much control over law-abiding internet companies. If the Attorney General thinks a site is not doing enough to stop piracy, that site could be held liable for copyright infringement

One of the nation's largest domain providers, Go Daddy, initially signed on as a supporter of SOPA. Many of their customers lashed out, and the CEO has since reversed his position. That didn't stop many internet companies from participating in "Dump Go Daddy Day" Thursday, several posting on Go Daddy's customer forum page that it's too little, too late.

Supporters argue it's a matter of protecting jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates piracy and counterfeiting lead to a yearly loss of $135 billion for Hollywood studios, record labels, and publishing houses. Opponents believe it comes down to a matter of protecting a basic American right.

"I don't think that's right. We should be free to do stuff," Potter-Wehr said.

The Senate is scheduled to hear its version of the bill in January, after lawmakers return from their holiday break. Senator Charles Grassley has signed on as a co-sponsor, but said he is working with the bill's primary sponsor, Senator Patrick Leahy, to address some problems with the bill before it comes to the full Senate.

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