viagra serif;”>Robert Dunne voices his opinion on at what they mean and how they will affect Ireland.


pharmacy serif;”>The Stop Online Piracy Act, which many websites protested against on Wednesday the 18th of January, will – apart from attacking freedom of speech – fail to stop online piracy and will have serious economic consequences not just for the U.S., but for citizens worldwide.

A few days prior to the online protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a provision of the bill stating that the U.S. authorities could completely block domain names suspected of infringing on copyright had been removed and the negotiation of the bill had been postponed in Congress. Although this may appear to be good news, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) contains many of the samedetails as the original SOPA bill and is still being negotiated. Both these bills are in keeping with the aims The Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which would apply to all EU citizens as well as citizens in Japan, South Korea, Australia and other countries.

If either one of these bills were to be approved it would have disastrous effects for Ireland. If SOPA or PIPA were passed it would mean huge job losses in Ireland and elsewhere, as Irish online entrepreneurs and American IT companies, like Google and Facebook, outsourcing to Ireland such as Google and Facebook would be seriously hit. Whilst the blocking of domain names would not be applied to Ireland, a blocking of domain names in the U.S. would undoubtedly affect us directly, as Irish online entrepreneurs could have a large part of the online market cut off to them. Google and Facebook could also face prosecutions, potentially leading to a huge decrease in online traffic and in turn a loss of profits. SOPA and PIPA would also ban credit card companies from making payments to sites deemed to be holding or linking to copyrighted content, thereby crippling online advertising.

Effects would also be felt by students, job seekers and those currently employed in the I.T sector, as these bills (an effort to benefit a small amount of people in the entertainment industry) will lead to massive unemployment worldwide. It would also mean that if you so much as shared copyrighted content you could be considered a criminal in the United States, worthy of a prison sentence or extradition. The concept of the national blocking of domain names suspected to have or link to pirated content is a perversion of justice, as it entails being guilty till proven innocent instead of innocent till proven guilty.

It is also important to note that these bills will not, in actual fact, stop online piracy in the U.S., as there are many ways around the blocking of domain names. Sites could be accessed by means of typing in their IP address and U.S. citizens could access and download pirated content by going through proxies, much like citizens in Egypt did during Mubarak’s regime. While intellectual property theft is an issue, these draconian pieces of legislation are not the answer as they will stifle e-commerce, while accomplishing nothing. It is worth nothing that while these bills in the United States may seem extreme, they aim to fulfill the aims of ACTA which is currently being negotiated worldwide.