Staff Editorial: Suck it SOPA

Illustration by Stephanie Perez | The Ranger

Our internet freedom took a turn for the worst last month as the U.S. government tried to enforce the Stop Online Piracy Act.

The bill was introduced by U.S. Rep Lamar S. SmithR-San Antonio, in hopes that it would protect copyrighted material from being used and/or shared through the streams of the Internet. A number of other U.S. representatives supported this bill as it went to Congress.

On Jan. 18, a few dozen websites conducted a service blackout to raise awareness of the bill that was in limbo of being passed. And that is when the protests began. Millions of Internet users signed petitions, garnered statements and put the freedom of speech Amendment to good use.

After heavy protesting from people across the nation, the government removed the bill from Congress and decided it needed some serious tweaking before instituting something so detrimental to our rights as Americans.

Any college student would understand it is almost vital to to have access to the Internet to further education these days.

Not only are we able to receive copious amounts of necessary (OK, and maybe some unnecessary) information, but so many people use the Internet to express themselves and network. Artists and musicians gain a following and thrive by putting their work on certain websites.

It is almost impossible to find anyone without a Facebook page or Twitter account in today’s society. People connect and share ideas and, in a way, work from their social networking accounts.

SOPA was designed to protect, but as it stood, it was going to inhibit one of the few true freedoms we still have as U.S. citizens: our freedom of speech.

It is a privilege to have use of the internet, unrestricted, and it is a privilege to use the Internet for our own personal expression and gain.

We do always need to be aware of what is legal and morally right, SOPA or no SOPA. The government should not have to over-censor the Internet and deprive us of our rights.

It is no different than following traffic laws. Most people obey traffic laws in fear of getting ticketed, fined or worse and we should use that same honor system and judgment when it comes to sharing or using copyrighted information online.

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