SOPA and PIPA: One week later

By Ross Hettel

One short week has passed since the Internet’s unanimous stand against the evils of SOPA, PIPA, and other acronyms you may not have heard of until your favorite web comic was blocked for the day.

One short week, however, is all it takes to shake up the battlefield.

Even though SOPA was shelved, the war against piracy has not slowed down in the slightest. Not even a day after the major web blackout, the U.S. Federal Government shutdown MegaUpload, the infamous file-sharing website. The owners face serious charges of copyright infringement and any attempt to load the website only brings an FBI piracy warning and notice of seizure.

A little more than a week ago, 23 year old Richard O’Dwyer was extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States over two charges of copyright. His website,, did not host any copyrighted content itself, it only linked to other websites where the pirated video was stored.

And now only yesterday, another website has been seized and shutdown on copyright infringement charges:

John Miller, a senior computer science major at NIU, doesn’t quite agree with the way the government is handling things.

“The way the feds shut down those websites could be effective if their goal was to send a message that they are cracking down on piracy,” he said. “If their goal was to actually curb piracy, it wasn’t effective at all because tons of alternatives will pop up within a few days, if not hours.”

A few Google searches later, and it appears John is right.

In a search for the term, the third result is titled “Top 5 TVShack Alternatives,” and the rest of the results are in a similar vein.

Indeed, the nature of the Internet fosters this kind of behavior. For every big, successful site, there are 10 more copycats.

Thomas Oates, Assistant Professor of Journalism at NIU, says it might be time to update the copyright laws, rather than make the current laws stricter.

“I don’t share the point of view… that the problem is the copyright regulation is too lax,” he said. “I think the copyright regulation is outdated and doesn’t meet the needs of the digital world we live in.”

Oates said that we live in a remix culture, referring to the kinds of activities people engage in online where they innovate, re-purpose and build upon another person’s work. He said that that’s the way that cultures grow, and it would be regrettable if the protection of intellectual property came to trump those other values.

Whether the solution is copyright law reform, stricter penalties for copyright infringement, or provisions for censoring the Internet, one thing is sure: change is on its way.