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The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/24/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,288 times Debate No: 19466
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
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Again this debate is wether to pass or fail the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA

I will be arguing the affirmative, meaning that i am in favor of the passage of SOPA.
The first round will consitst of just a brief statement of belief and the true debate will start with the second round so please accept

I believe that the congress of the United States of America should pass SOPA


Online piracy is fundamentally misunderstood. Most piracy does not take away from retail sales but instead brings the media to people who, if this law is passed, would never be exposed to that particular product because of the price. This means companies are not losing revenue but are gaining product and brand awareness which ultimately leads to revenue through word of mouth and other merchandise.
Debate Round No. 1


Piracy is no longer just an occupation for swash-buckling men and women who have a thirst for bloodshed and adventure. Piracy in the modern era, is digitalized, but it still is pillaging and plundering. We must pass the online piracy act for 3 reasons that
1. protects the intellectual rights of businesses
2. protects the average online consumer
3. It is by no means a curtailment of first amendment rights

But first i will address the opening statement of the negation. The negation would like you to believe that companies actually benefit from piracy, but that is simply mistaken. First we must look to why this bill has been put in congress in the first place. The bill was written and co-sponsored by 12 representatives, but why did they do this? Because they were lobbied to do so. The music/entertainment industry has lobbied tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in support of this legislation. Why else would it be in congress. Now the negation may try to quote groups like Phish who actually encouraged people to pirate their music in the hopes to gain popularity. But you must understand that this is not the opinion of every music/entertainment corporation! These businesses make money through the sales of these products, and are entitled to the ability to sell them. This leads me to my first point

SOPA protects the intellectual rights of businesses
The main idea of this piece of legislation is to protect media companies and their rights to sell their products, and keep their intellectual rights. If you have watched the movie "Flash Of Genius" you are familiar with what happens when an idea is stolen. Yes, Mr. Kearns designed windshield wipers, but the thought is universal. He came up with the idea, and yet it was stolen from him, and sold. He lost millions to the big car corporations because they stole his idea. All that this legislation does is further protect the rights of businesses against illegal theft of intellectual property. How would you feel if you worked for months, even years on a painting, only to have an identical painting made, making yours worthless. It is far from fair to take another's intellectual property. This legislation protects against that. All that this does is give more power to corporations to file an injunction against a website that steals movies/songs and then have the possibility to stop that copyrighted material from appearing from that webpage or shutting down the webpage as a whole DEPENDING ON THE RULING OF A JUDGE OR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL. Even though some people are fine with piracy of their work it doesn't mean that everyone is. And businesses deserve to have the same rights as other corporations. Why is it illegal and punishable by law to steal blueprints of something and sell them, but legal and not punishable by law to steal music and profit off of the giving of such music (add space on websites who give away material). All this bill does is give music companies the same rights as other companies in other sectors of the economy.

Protects the average consumer
This legislation not only protects companies on the internet, but also the average consumer. The bill protects the average consumer on the internet by stopping fraudulent sales. What this means is that it stops internet scams. Web sites that are partially or completely purposed for the sale of fraudulent merchandise will be accountable for their actions. So the old deposed prince of Algeria scam is the thing of the past. Any website that has the sole goal of defrauding people will be shut down AFTER DUE PROCESS. Think of what this will do. No more annoying pop up adds saying that you have won a free ipad, no more of those spam emails, and no more suspicion if a deal is to good to be true. Furthermore it protects our fighting men and women. The bill also specifies an increased sentence on people who try to sell goods to the US military, the department of defense, or any form of US law forces. So this bill protects all of us from fraudulent websites, and also our bravest from fraudulent websites.

Does not Curtail First Amendment rights
There has been a large amount of outrage about this piece of legislation. And I have found that it is mainly due to misinterpretation of the legislation itself. Please when arguing this issue, actually read the legislation. I have had hours worth of arguments about this bill all due to misinformation. The legislation does not curtail first amendment rights, it simply protects the rights of all Americans. The bill can, admittedly, stop someone from posting anything they want on a webpage, but only if it is copy righted. This is in the same train of thought as murder, I know it sounds like a stretch but here is what I mean. All people have free will, the right to do whatever they want whenever they want, but only if it doesn't curtail rights of others, meaning that it curtails the rights of people to kill people, but it protects the right to life for everyone else. The same can be said for this bill. Yes It does curtail the rights of someone to post anything on the internet, but it protects the rights of the person who owns the copyrighted material.;


To really start any discussion on this topic we must agree that copyright laws are out of date and do not account for mediums such as the internet. This being the case any law which attempts to deal with this issue, such as SOPA, is dealing with the issue backwards. Instead of changing the internet to conform with IP and Copyright laws we should be changing IP and copyright laws to be more coherent with the internet as a medium. That argument by itself dismisses this bill all together discounting any other factors. Purely on a reform basis, it should be the laws that should change to cope with new changes in society not the government changing society to cope with laws.

The above statement really deals with your first point about protecting intellectual property because there is no claim to ownership of the product by the people who are distributing it, unlike flash of genius where his product was STOLEN not pirated. In that case IP laws was the cause of the hysteria because of the fact that Ford took his idea and took out a patent on it. They didn't take the idea and distribute it for free along side being able to sell it in a free market these companies took the rights to this product and prohibited him from ever selling his product. This example is a very bad one for this argument because even though it deals with intellectual property it in no way relates to copyright infringement on the internet (my first paragraph reinforced).

The idea that this protects the average consumer and does not curtail free speech is in many ways misguided.

The bill does not offer due process, instead acts on a model of guilty until proven innocent. As well it puts an unnecessary burden on ISPs to track and monitor people on the internet. If a claim is made the website is immediately shut down until it can be proven that the site has not been engaging in fraudulent activities. This is not how a society should allow its government to function. A responsible society should adapt to new changes rather then stifle advancements to appease outdated laws (Once again the first paragraph)

The idea that piracy can be a tool for prosperity is very real and has some tangible examples. Many music artists from the 1980's do not receive many royalties for their songs, they do not get many gigs, they do not even have name recognition any longer. Though in the 2000's an internet fad called "Rick-Rolling" became a viral sensation where a copyrighted peace of material was used as a joke. This was used by many people including speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi. This made Rick Astley a household name and his fame returned to him from his original 15 minutes in the 80's. It also led to him getting a job on the macy's thanks giving day parade where he eventually rick rolled the audience, which let him rake in some cash. Now this may be a phish incident but it's just another example of free advertising and the power of the free internet to create real world tangible wealth.

More importantly,
We should listen to the major tech companies like google, AOL, Microsoft, verizon, ect when it comes to regulation of the internet. These tech giants understand the internet much better than congress and even better than the lobbyists of the entertainment industry. The internet was developed to be a tool for humans to share information with each other freely and securely. The right to IP is important and is the back bone behind our economic structure but the approach of SOPA is the wrong approach and needs to be voted down in favor of reworking our system and finding a solution that approaches 21st century matters in a 21st century way.

Debate Round No. 2


The negation stated that this bill is coming across the issue backwards, changing the internet to better fit copyright laws rather than changing copyright laws to better fit the internet. This statement is simply fallacious. I will refer you back to my first argument, pleading with you to read the actual piece of legislation, and apparently you did not. The bill by no means tries to change the internet, it only changes the copyright laws. I refer you to one of my sources, the library of congress's summary of the bill. It states that " (it) Expands the offense of criminal copyright infringement to include public performances of: (1) copyrighted work by digital transmission, and (2) work intended for commercial dissemination by making it available on a computer network. Expands the criminal offenses of trafficking in inherently dangerous goods or services to include: (1) counterfeit drugs; and (2) goods or services falsely identified as meeting military standards or intended for use in a national security, law enforcement, or critical infrastructure application." furthermore an intellectual property right holder harmed by a U.S.-directed site dedicated to infringement, or a site promoted or used for infringement under certain circumstances, to first provide a written notification identifying the site to related payment network providers and Internet advertising services requiring such entities to forward the notification and suspend their services to such an identified site unless the site's owner, operator, or domain name registrant, upon receiving the forwarded notification, provides a counter notification explaining that it is not dedicated to engaging in specified violations. Authorizes the right holder to then commence an action for limited injunctive relief against the owner". Negation- in your next argument will you please outline for me where in the legislation it alters the internet?
This leads me to my next point which is the simple vagueality of his statements. You can see that he has no references and doesn't cite any examples in his first paragraph. He simply states that the bill alters the internet. But nowhere in his speech does he say exactly how it does such. He is simply writing an opinion because he doesn't back up anything he says. I challenge you to read the actual bill, or at least the summary, and show me exactly where it tries to alter the internet. The bill as written now only provides for companies to file and injunction with a site to possibly take it down. The bill simply extends the copyright laws onto the internet, and in no way tries to change the internet.

For his next argument he stated that a website is innocent until proven guilty, but again i say read the actual bill!!! nowhere in the bill does it do this. The bill outlines a very complicated process for the shutting down of websites. A company that doesn't like the website can ask the Attorney General to put it on a blacklist, which is then sent for approval by a federal judge, which then gives the power to a company to send a cease and desist order to the website, if the site does not comply then they are taken down. The statement that "the website is immediately shut down" is a bold faced lie.
He then went on to protect his point that artists actually want to be pirated. He stated that artists don't really receive that much money from their songs and get most of their money from there tours. And yes i would agree with this, but we also must protect the rights of the companies selling the music. The companies get the majority of the money when selling an album, and they don't want it to be pirated because the more people that pirate it the less money they make. This completely throws his argument out of the window because it doesn't matter what the artists want because they are not the ones being harmed. It is the companies who we are trying to protect, therefore the artists opinions don't matter. He tried to justify his arguments by using the example of rick Astley, and as much as i love his song the negation is again misguided. Rick Astly is in the small percentage of people that are helped when piracy takes place. Along with bands like fish he is one of the few people in favor for it. But we cannot look at the fame of one man and let it decide this issue. Just because one guy got more famous off of pirating doesn't mean that we should legalize it. The majority of people in the entertainment industry (writers, producers, directors...) are in favor of this bill and against pirating. The negation is valuing the rights of the few over the rights of the many. saying that a few people benefit while completely disregarding the overwhelming majority of people that piracy hurts.
He then stated that we have to listen to major tech companies who are against this legislation. I say we listen to the people that this situation hurts, like the companies because the people who are negatively affected by a situation are a good judge. "It is piracy, not overt online music stores, which is our main competitor."---Steve Jobs

So to reiterate
Copyright laws are out of date and this bill reforms the law rather than the internet
Bill gives due process
Does not help the companies who made the copyrighted material


I did read the legislation, I just didn't want to litter my response with large quotes but as you requested I will attempt to be more specific, i am sorry I rushed through my response before.

"network providers and Internet advertising services requiring such entities to forward the notification and suspend their services to such an identified site unless the site's owner, operator, or domain name registrant, upon receiving the forwarded notification, provides a counter notification explaining that it is not dedicated to engaging in specified violations."

This is the government forcing businesses to shut down other businesses and other private sites based on a guilty until proven innocent claim. This is clearly not due process and this allows too much potential for regulation of the internet to be abused.

"Requires online service providers, Internet search engines, payment network providers, and Internet advertising services, upon receiving a copy of a court order relating to an AG action, to carry out certain preventative measures including withholding services from an infringing site or preventing users located in the United States from accessing the infringing site. Requires payment network providers and Internet advertising services, upon receiving a copy of such an order relating to a right holder's action, to carry out similar preventative measures."

A complete block on a website is unethical. It goes beyond copyright problems. Sites like wikipedia who have hundreds of thousands of links may be potentially shut down due to a link that is posted linking the site with infringed materials. Preventative measures when it comes to regulations of the internet are unacceptable. We must be very delicate on how we regulate an information super highway to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. This bill attempts to do some really just things but allows for too much and needs to be voted down in favor of smaller, more specific measures developed by people who understand how this system works, not solely politicians.

"Provides immunity from liability for service providers, payment network providers, Internet advertising services, advertisers, Internet search engines, domain name registries, or domain name registrars that take actions required by this Act or otherwise voluntarily block access to or end financial affiliation with such sites."

This protects the possibility of a tyrannical service provider from shutting down a website arbitrarily until the website is proven innocent.

"Permits such entities to stop or refuse services to certain sites that endanger public health by distributing prescription medication that is adulterated, misbranded, or without a valid prescription."

Public health is very vague and though i agree a lot of this homeopathy craziness is unethical this bill is the incorrect way to regulate these things on the internet.

Copyright laws are out of date and need to be corrected this bill is a start to bring the issue to the table but approaches it in the wrong way, due process is not there because it protects service providers in taking preventative measures before the claims are ever fully substantiated.

I still believe that the claim of we should listen to the compaines who know this area best are the ones who should be working in conjuction with the congress. We HAVE to protect these companies from losing money because they deserve it though we must protect the sanctity and security of the internet.

Also if you understand technology you would see that Steve Jobs was never a tech person, his only benefit to the tech community was he had an uncanny knack to be really really picky about how his products looked and were interacted with rather than really understanding technology, like the internet. Also if you have read his biography his judgement in many areas of life are extremely flawed.
Debate Round No. 3


master-debaterr forfeited this round.


Because my opponent has forfeited his round. I declared that the voters should vote for me because of the fact that all my statements were not responded to
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by TheAlmighty 6 years ago
Frick, now I wished I vote.
Clearly, the Con side won. The points and refutations were neck in neck honestly, but the Pro forfeited one of the rounds, which clearly made all the difference. In a real debate, forfeiting a round is fatal, so the win should obviously go to Con.
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