SOPA legislation stirs debate about Web - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

SOPA legislation stirs debate about Web

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Wikipedia has gone black for 24 hours in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act, known as SOPA.

Internet users can download just about anything for free.

That practice drives the movie and music industry crazy, saying they aren't getting paid for their intellectual property.

SOPA is one of three pieces of legislation that would go after copyright infringement.

But detractors say some language would allow censorship and cripple many websites and blogs and change social media.

"It's certainly not a black and white issue," said Marketa Trimble, associate professor at UNLV's Boyd School of Law specializing in intellectual property. "There are a lot of problems involved in this. It's absolutely undeniable that these industries hurt quite a bit because of online piracy, particularly the piracy that's being supported by foreign websites, websites originating in countries that might not be as diligent about protecting intellectual property and enforcing intellectual property rights."

But Trimble adds the legislation is approaching the problem through a certain type of filtering of content, meaning internet service providers would be required to block infringing websites.

That's the part that worries people like video production company owner Michael Burke.

"It would definitely hurt my business, and not just my business but my clients, from spreading what their message is and just individual bloggers," Burke said.

The debate begins and ends with giving groups their fair share without infringing on free speech rights, not to mention enforcing national laws on a worldwide Web.

That's one other part of this debate. There are devices that allow people to have an IP address from another country, side-skirting the law.

With Congress starting back up, some lawmakers are backing down on this issue, and the White House has hinted that the president would veto it.

Now, the lobbyists on both sides are making their push before it gets anywhere near a vote.

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