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Justin Bieber In Jail? “Stop Online Piracy Act” Would Make Streaming A Felony

Submitted by on November 27, 2011 – 12:11 pm10 Comments

Visit the website FreeBieber.org, and you’ll be greeted by a series of photos of the teen idol under arrest and in jail. He goes to court, gets tattooed, and gets a sympathetic visit from girlfriend Selena Gomez, who is facing jail time herself. What did they do to deserve this fate?

The photos are fake, but the website is publicizing a very real bill that could be passed by Congress. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is supposed to crack down on the illegal use of copyrighted material on the internet.

While even critics admit that creative industries must adapt to the challenges of the internet, many feel this law goes much too far. It would make streaming copyrighted material a felony, carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison for a first time offender.

SOPA also has harsh punishments for the websites, like YouTube and Twitter, that show the material. Even advertisers, search engines, and payment facilitators (like PayPal) could face court orders if they do not cut ties with the supposedly offending websites.

Why is Justin Bieber involved? The star got his start uploading videos to YouTube of himself singing Usher and Chris Brown tunes, possibly making him liable under the new law; his devoted Beliebers who post cover videos could face the same fate.

Websites like Google and YouTube are strongly against the bill, fearing that it would allow the government to censor their sites. They’ve struggled to comply with current regulations, but SOPA’s extreme changes could be near impossible to meet, or would result in crushing punishments.

Until recently,  the Business Software Alliance (a trade group which represents Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, and many other tech giants) had supported the bill . But a blog post last week from the BSA announced that they were seeking more work on the bill to address concerns about “due process”, “free speech”, “privacy”, and “security of networks”.

What do you think? Will SOPA protect or crush creativity and free speech?

[Via PC World]

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