February 20, 2024

SOPA: A Call to Action for Librarians

Voicing her opposition to SOPA, the anti-piracy bill making its way through Congress, library technologist Jessamyn West has called on her peers in the profession to take action, for starters, by becoming informed.

In her Monday blog post, West wrote:

I oppose SOPA unequivocally; it’s vague, it’s anti-free-speech, and it won’t solve the problem it’s designed to combat. One of the things that is tricky about SOPA–the legislation moving through Congress that threatens to enact stiff penalties for online piracy–is the number of things you need to understand to even understand what it does. I’m very good with computers and I had to spend sometime getting my head around it. I suspect my legislators may not even understand what it means to start messing around with DNS files to essentially take a website “off the internet” if it’s found [through a not-very-confidence-inspiring process] to be hosting infringing content. The website I work for hosts almost no content but links to a lot of things and we could be mistakenly shut down for linking to people who host “illegal” content.

So, I think we need to do a few things: understand how this bill is supposed to work, be clear in our opposition to it as a profession, work with other people to inform and educate others so that people can make their own informed choices. Here is a short list of links to get you started… Continue reading

On the heels of West’s post, the American Library Association’s Washington Office has released a “PIPA, SOPA and the OPEN Act Quick Reference Guide” to the three related bills, which “have the potential to negatively impact fundamental library principles,” according to the document.

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is due for markup on January 17, and a Senate vote on PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) is slated for January 24. Meanwhile, the OPEN (Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade) Act, which would cut payment to foreign websites dedicated to piracy and is proposed as an alternative to PIPA, is currently in committee.

On the school front, the EFF has urged teens to talk their teachers about discussing SOPA in class.


Illustration by Mataparda.

Kathy Ishizuka About Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka (kishizuka@mediasourceinc.com, @kishizuka on Twitter) is Executive Editor of School Library Journal.