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HANDS OFF MY EXPRESSION The St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, FL) , December 15, 2011 listen - Byline: OLIVIA SMITH Those of us lurking on Tumblr and various underground blogs are more than aware of the proposed legislation in the Senate and House meant to halt theft of intellectual property on the Internet. The bills are known as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). For those of you who have lives outside of the World Wide Web, here is an abbreviated explanation of the bills' potential: In the name of preventing the illegal downloading of copyrighted movies, games, software and other forms of expression online, a noble cause, the legislation strays into dangerous censorship territory that could have grave effects on all of us. If passed, the government could force search engines, browsers and service providers to block users' access to websites. Now I know many of you are thinking, "Whatever, everything on my iPod I paid for with my (parents') hard-earned money. This doesn't affect me because I am completely legit." Think again. All of us could find our online behaviors curtailed significantly by these bills as they are currently written. Do a little research. Check out the Motion Picture Association of America's website mpaa.org, and read its take on the danger of "rogue websites." Then check out an opinion piece by Leslie Harris on abc.com (tiny.cc/abcopinion) and an explanatory video by the freedom of expression advocacy site, fightforthefuture.org/pipa. In addition to the inherent problem of censorship, here are some ways this legislation could affect me: I can forget a future career in online development (blogs, magazines, etc.) These bills give corporations and the government the ability to cut off funds to "infringing websites," those that post content by others, by forcing U.S.-based advertisers and payment services to stop doing business with the sites. Without financial support, websites will go down due to being, well, broke. This will make it practically impossible to maintain a decent website, let alone start one.
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I will no longer know what Great Aunt Lynn from Chicago is eating for brunch. This legislation is so ambiguous that even well established social media and
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This note was uploaded on 02/04/2012 for the course BUL 5555 taught by Professor Gree during the Spring '11 term at FIU.

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