Rate this
0 (0 votes)
"SOPA is a major blow to a nation that salutes the word 'free'."
0 out of 5 based on 0 user ratings

"SOPA is a major blow to a nation that salutes the word 'free'."

The Stop Online Piracy Act, which provoked widespread public outrage when introduced to the US Congress, is both flawed and unlikely to beat criminal counterfeiting stemming from China, according to Ryan Bachoo, 22, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Trinidad & Tobago.

There’s been uproar from certain factions of the public and websites in response to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) laid out in the US Congress by Republican Representative Lamar Smith.

The bill was introduced to expand the ability of the authorities to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Yet it has turned into a dogfight.

There’s very little argument that can defend the man on the streets of New York selling pirated Hollywood movies, ripped from a personal computer onto a Digital Versatile Disc at a price nowhere near what the original will cost.

But free downloading then selling is only a very small part of the problem. While it is easy to see that the first bill that was introduced to Congress on October 26, 2011, has many flaws to it like proof bearing, censorship, and stifling of the internet, I fear that many people who believe this is Congress’ way of gagging free speech don’t totally understand SOPA’s purpose.

But then again, perhaps we have all been too busy wondering how SOPA will hamper our daily lives to look at the bigger picture.

The real problem can be summarized in one word: China. In spite of a very fruitful trade relationship for the United States, the biggest problem with China’s fast growing economy has to be intellectual property theft. Technology companies, for example, continue to notice Chinese government agencies downloading software updates for programs they have never bought, at least not legally. In the process, China has become the world’s second-largest market for computer hardware sales, but it is only the eighth-largest for software sales.

But there’s more. People or businesses who work in China are subject to the protectionist barriers China has put up. In some instances Beijing has insisted that products sold in China must not only be made but conceived and designed there. The policy goes by the name “indigenous innovation.” That’s hard to tell, because I got a fake iPhone for Christmas (difficult to tell), and I guarantee it wasn’t made in America.

But iPhones are just about the start of Chinese counterfeiting. Using hidden cameras reporters from ABC NEWS found an amazing variety and quantity of copies touted by Chinese criminals. Not only were there the latest DVDs for $1 each, but the latest software – like the newest version of PhotoShop and Windows – at one-tenth the cost and just about every consumer product imaginable.

Most of the Yamaha motorbikes there are not made by Yamaha. One-fourth of the Duracell and Energizer batteries are bogus. American Standard toilets, Head & Shoulders shampoo, Gillette razors and even reliable Skippy peanut butter are almost all of dubious quality. They even sell fake Viagra. As the Asian director for the security consulting firm, Kroll Associates, Charles Scholz put it, you can find “Anything from shampoo that might burn your head, batteries that only work for two days before they cut out, light bulbs that go out after two days.” The only thing real in those counterfeit products is the tags. And believe me, the Apple sign on the iPhone was as real as the one Steve Jobs designed.

It is not the same with China’s online counterfeiting. Oh no, it is far worst. Through hacking and other means, Chinese criminals have been able to illegally download America’s film and software and sell it on the black market at a much reduced price, as with PhotoShop and Windows. And if you think that such software and downloads are being circulated on the streets of Beijing, Hong Kong or Shenzhen, think again. How did I get my “iPhone” for Christmas? Chinese criminals have started a worldwide business that doesn’t always require shipping physical products across borders. There is a lot of money that is made through online dealership. But this can never be right.

I do think though that the SOCA bill will need twisting and turning before it is dead right. For instance, some of its flaws give individuals and corporations unprecedented power to silence speech online. That is a major blow to a nation that salutes the word ‘free’. Also, SOPA gives the government even more power to censor, as the Attorney General could “disappear” websites by creating a blacklist and requiring service providers (such as search engines and domain services) to block the sites on the list.

And finally, SOPA will not stop online piracy. The powerful tools granted to the Attorney General would only present major obstacles to casual users, but would be trivially easy to deter dedicated and technically savvy users and hackers.

I’d hate to think Einstein was right, “Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.”

Follow Ryan Bachoo on Twitter here.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

About me:

“Hi, I am Ryan Bachoo, a journalist and public relations officer from Princes Town in Trinidad and Tobago. I currently work with the West Indies Cricket Board.

“I am currently working as a broadcast journalist for Cable News Channel 3. I also write on various talking points and current problems facing the world including international politics and the issues of a depleting economy.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Comments

comments

Powered by Facebook Comments