SOPA   1 comment

We are on page 19 of 365 days of 2012 and I never said anything in this year, but some thing forced me to pause all the things I was working on and write about it;  SOPA- Stop Online Piracy Act, introduced in October 2011. The full title of the bill says “To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes.” The picture is taken one year ago on this day, today is Ethiopian Epiphany. I had to post my own pictures so that I won’t be against copyright laws 🙂 Yesterday, most sites had a ribbon like the one I had here, on the right top corner. It was a protest against SOPA, many people who created parts of the internet and its protocol, companies which we know and use every day are all against it. One of the well known online source of information wikipedia was black the whole day, google has covered its logo with black and many others. First I had no idea how it really works and how it is going to affect me and the developing countries.

Where I live, Ethiopia, it’s been few years since the artists came out and we heard them talk about copyright. Few years back, it was common to see copied CD’s and cassette of any album or a movie. However recently we see that there is somehow a control to a degree of copies of local intellectual properties. If SOPA was a sort of such a law in the US, I wouldn’t mind if they have it  or not as long as I am here. I get the latest movies and albums before my friends living in the US and no one asks me.  But it was all a different perspective which affect the way I live now, either the positive way or the negative. I saw lots of videos and blogs describing it and I thought I have to show my perspectives. The one blog that took my attention is the one I saw on tech-crunch, it says ‘Please censor the Web America, the rest of us can’t wait‘. Thank God we are five days behind January 24th, the day they vote on it, I can simply link to other sites without worrying about copyright 🙂 The writer seams to be happy about the bill as it encourages start-ups to move to other countries like Europe and build their company there.

There are hundreds and thousands of start-ups coming in to the growing IT industry. If we look at most of them, they are centered around a concept of building content; a content built by the community they serve. Keeping aside the new entrants, Youtube, Wikipedia, Facebook, twitter etc collect content from the public and the community wants to share the content with their friends and family. If one of these has content that one has copyright on that content, or they have a link to the site that hosts the content (assuming it is outside the US), or they facilitate any of the service of such site, then they’ll be the targets. The funnies part is, if it is found to be false, they don’t have the right to sue back the company that claims to have the copyright. IMHO, almost all start-ups coming to the business relay on one of the above services and they expect their user to build the content and that is common. Imagine the level of control that it requires to monitor all the content coming in to your service to filter a copyrighted material!

Well, to be honest more than 80% of the software we use in our daily life … we know where we get them now. As a software developer, I know the amount of time, effort … spent of one software and I don’t agree in just copying it for 15 birr and using it, but until the time  comes for our community to understand the value of what we do and raise awareness… I’d say let it be. I bet we all agree that there is a minimum effect on the society if we don’t get the latest movies or music, so I don’t want to talk about that. Part of me tells me that this might be a good opportunity for African start-ups to come on stage and serve their community, until an African version of SOPA comes and takes them down. Sometimes I think there will be a solution to this. I hope you have your own perspective of the effect on our society, and please share it with me and the others. Expecting the best will come than what we all expect if this happens.



Posted January 19, 2012 by Behailu S. in Uncategorized

One response to “SOPA

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  1. We will suffer a loss of the internet if we do not get up and fight SOPA and ACTA.

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