Say ‘NOpa’ to ‘SOPA’   Leave a comment

Today, January 18, many online communities are taking the time to tell everyone about ‘SOPA‘, and why it’s important that we understand what it means.  ‘SOPA’ stands for the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’, and it’s a set of rules that are being considered as becoming law by the US Government. The lawmakers – members of the US Congress – who thought this was a good idea are trying to prevent music, photos, videos, and other ideas we can find online from being stolen, so the people who originally had the ideas can protect their work. But after being discussed and passed around from one group of lawmakers to another, the simple rule of not allowing ideas to be stolen has grown to include almost anyone placing almost anything online could be breaking the law, even if it’s just being done as a fan or part of a blog or review.

So if you want to sing your favorite song and post a video, you could get in trouble. Or if you want to post about your favorite celeb or movie or book, just using parts of their work in a public forum or chatroom could cause trouble both for you, and for the owners of the chatroom and site. If these rules become law the forums, blogs, chatrooms, and even sites could be forced to close, pay fines, or other punishment if anyone on the site uses songs or images or writing that was originally the work of someone else. This would mean the internet would be a much smaller place than we know now, many sites would go away forever, and we wouldn’t be able to enjoy or learn from the works of others.

There are some people who do steal music and photos and work others have created and that is wrong, but it doesn’t mean the entire ‘net needs to be punished. The members of Congress will discuss and decide on this among themselves within the next few weeks. We don’t have a direct vote, but we can tell them what we think by making our voices heard online and within our families and communities; keeping informed about the lawmaking process; and helping lawmakers understand the internet needs to remain a free and open source of sharing and understanding.


As of this afternoon, Friday the 20th, the leaders in Congress who have been thinking about these rules decided it’s not the best solution, and they’re going to start over from the beginning!  Hopefully with ideas that will be fair to everyone, punishing the people who steal ideas and the work of others for their own benefit, but still allowing all of us who go online for fun, to meet friends, and for learning new things to enjoy the internet for what it’s best used for – an open community.  

Congress changed their minds – We did it!!

This is great news, but we still need to remember Congress wants to make some  type of rules (that’s what they feel they need to do), so all of us have to keep alert and aware.   


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