As someone who works in the digital media world, I am aware of how big the internet has gotten. In the U.S. alone, close to 80% of the population is on the web. In fact, 27% of the world’s population is online. These are incredible statistics, considering that back in 1995 less than 10% of the US population and less 1% of the world’s population was online. Throughout this time there have been disagreements as to what can and cannot be done on the internet.
I remember that back in 2000 Napster was sued for allowing users to illegally download music from other user’s computers. Many people were saying that the music industry was being greedy, and that if something is online people should not have to pay for it. Earlier this year Zuffa, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, took the operators of third party websites who were allowing the fights to be streamed for free to court.
Companies are fighting to protect their intellectual property. This past October Representative Lamar Smith introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). This act would essentially allow law enforcement to access sites that are distributing intellectual properties and counterfeit goods. If this act were to pass, it would change the way we would look at the internet. No longer could someone log on and buy a knock-off Louis Vuitton purse or watch streamed live events on third party websites.
While more regulation might do the internet some good, too much might ruin it. Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian spoke to Business Insider about the deleterious effects of the bill, essentially saying that if SOPA passes, it will ‘obliterate an entire industry’.