Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

32° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Advertisement
Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Advertisement

Advertisement

Letter to the Editor: Protect IP puts constraints on Internet freedom

Thursday’s article “Congress debates proposed Internet piracy legislation” misses the point about just how bad SOPA and Protect IP are. It writes that these bills “grant the government and copyright holders the power to take legal action against websites that enable copyright infringement”, but that’s not exactly what is going on.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), these entities already have the power to take legal action against infringing websites. What SOPA and Protect IP do is change the process for identifying and removing infringing content. As it currently stands, a copyright holder needs to contact a website that is hosting or linking to infringing copyright (e.g. YouTube) and that entity is responsible for removing that content. If they don’t, they can be sued.

These new bills put the onus of recognizing infringing content on the content host (e.g. YouTube). If you have infringing content on your website, you can instantly be sued, regardless of how it got there. There’s no grace period to allow you to take it down. What this means to you: if you have a personal blog, and someone comes along and posts a comment with a link to infringing content, you are in violation of the law and can be sued. Now, for you, you just moderate all comments to your blog before allowing them to be posted, and you’re fine, but this is not feasible for large sites.

YouTube has 48 hours of video content uploaded every minute. Google would need to go through every hour of that video and check it for infringing content BEFORE they put it online. This law would even apply to Google’s search business. Every year, hundreds of millions of new pages are created on the web that Google’s search engine indexes. With these bills, if Google doesn’t check each of these pages prior to indexing them, they’re in violation of the law.

I was just talking about Google, but this law applies to everybody. Facebook, for example, would need to check every link, image, or video that every single user posts. Facebook has over 800 million users uploading more than 8 billion photos every month, and every one of those would need to be checked for infringement before it was uploaded.

This is an insurmountable problem. I would hazard a guess that there are not enough workers in the entirety of the US job pool to accommodate this onerous task that will be placed on some of the most productive companies in the country and, indeed, the world.

This is the true problem with these heinous bills. It’s not that there is no recourse for piracy, it’s that the current methodology isn’t good enough for Hollywood. They don’t want to inform content hosts of infringing content, they want content hosts to do it for them. And, if they can put some of their major competitors out of business (make no mistake about it: Hollywood fears technology companies like YouTube), so much the better.

Alex Zylman

McCormick senior

More to Discover
Activate Search
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Letter to the Editor: Protect IP puts constraints on Internet freedom