A guest blog today…
There were undercurrents of mixed emotions in the United States Congress in January of 2012 when the Stop Piracy Online Act (“SOPA”) was discussed. On the surface SOPA discussions involved the protection of intellectual property rights, pushed mainly by the music and movie industry to protect their copyrighted content from being freely downloaded. However, continued Congressional discussions extended into the free rights of Internet use which was made a possible inclusion of a SOPA enactment. Internet giants soon got wind of SOPA, as did other Internet coalitions and became activists against SOPA.
Procedural actions also extended into the U.S. Senate which was working on possible legislation called the Protect IP Act (“PIPA”) which was also devised to stop illegal online copying of intellectual property such as books, music and movies. With SOPA and PIPA being introduced into the U.S. congressional bodies, opponents went to work to stop it calling it Internet censorship. Major Internet websites were so outraged that their coalitions threatened a “go dark” campaign and a few of the politicians who were also against SOPA and PIPA stated that they would plan a filibuster when these Acts would be introduced onto the floor.
Early January 2012 finally saw a great victory for opponents of SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy legislation which could affect the U.S. and foreign websites. The intense efforts to defeat these two legislations were successful, a vote was postponed, but copyright infringement will remain an on-going discussion. Now we come to the discussion of the U.S. northern neighbours in Canada who were closely following the U.S. discussions and actions. Canada already has in place legislation entitled Bill C-11, a Copyright Act for digital content.
With SOPA and PIPA discussions, Canada also decided to revisit Bill C-11 with the same support from the music and movie industry as the United States. The major search engine giants and their supporters took immediate action by also threatening a “black out” and write-in dissensions. Canada has always been seen as a leader of free speech and if enacted, Bill C-11 is just the opposite. If passed, Bill C-11 would include websites being blocked and illegal users being prosecuted with little or no proof needed.
Opponents of Bill C-11 have caused a delay in future legislation enactment, but because of the nature of the beast, the European Union and its membership have re-energized copyright infringement talks. The European Union re-introduced an agreement called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or “ACTA,” which was drawn up in 2007. With the re-introduction of ACTA which was signed originally by Canada and a majority of other countries, opponents took to the streets in protest, but Canada continues to support such an agreement. Canadian eyes and the world are watching the copyrighted infringement movement, where only time will tell what possible Internet censorship will bring.