At the beginning of January the internet was up in arms about a controversial antipiracy bill: SOPA. Of all the bloggers and internet fiends who made it their job to fight the enacting of this bill, I have to wonder how many of them thoroughly understood what it was. I’ll admit that I didn’t until I delved into some deeper research.

SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act, whose companion is PIPA, the Protect IP Act. The bills were both intended to protect more thoroughly against “copyright infringement and intellectual property theft.” I say were because both bills are now being sent back to the drawing board after the internet “blacked out” on January 18th.

Thousands of sites shut down or showed their disdain for the bill on that day, including:

  • Wikipedia
  •  Google
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • Twitpic
  • WordPress
  • Imgur

So why the blackout? What is so bad about wanting to protect copyrighted material? The broad language of the bills has many people concerned with its consequences. The vagueness could lead to many sites being shut down for using even small clips from television shows and movies.

“YouTube would just go dark immediately” one article states about potential consequences of these bills. The user created and uploaded “fan videos” and “music videos” could fall under copyright law violation for using clips of songs, TV shows, and movies.

So what else is so terrifying about the bills? How about the fact that you could serve jail time for streaming a TV show. Under SOPA streaming copyrighted video without permission would be considered a felony.

As a crazy obsessed internet user I’m not a fan of these bills. I think their vague wording could lead to more trouble than the good it could bring. On one hand, as a huge music, movie, and TV fan I want to see the people who create these things get credit and reward for their hard work. Obviously streaming something takes away from its value. It can also take away from the profit something could see, such as in the case of people downloading albums instead of actually buying them.

Will I say I’ve never downloaded and album? No, of course not. I live in the digital age where we all want things fast; downloads are right at our fingertips. But do I buy vinyl and merchandise from bands to support them? Hell yeah I do. I think this type of balance is what needs to be struck; not an all-out attack on those who download music and stream YouTube clips of our favorite shows.

Or maybe that’s just me wanting to have my cake and eat it too.

Maybe if more sites like ABC, CBS, and FOX included their current, as well as past, programming on their websites for free (including those obnoxious, but necessary ads) there would be less of a need for streaming sites. I realize these sites do provide some episodes for shows, but it’s usually for a limited time and only select episodes are available.

With music – well that’s a never-ending battle. There are many bands that don’t care about downloading; they’re just happy their music is being heard. Then there are bands that are outraged by the money their losing after they put in so much hard work.

I might not have a solution, but I definitely say that SOPA and PIPA are not the answers we’re looking for.