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SOPA, PIPA, and Libraries

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Today, webistes like Wikipedia, Reddit, and the Internet Archive will go dark in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). The Google doodle for today recognizes the protest as well. How does SOPA affect libraries and students, and why are websites and organizations protesting it?

On November 8, 2011, the Association of College and Research libraries (ACRL), the American Library Association (ALA), and the Association of Research Librarians (ARL), joined up as the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), sending a letter to members of the US House Judiciary Committee to express concern with SOPA. Specifically, the letter expressed concern that the expansion of penalities could threaten library and educational activities.

For example, passage of SOPA could affect the definition of fair use of online material by students and educators, and further, some suggest that universities would enact policies to protect them from liability, while making it more difficult for students and teachers to provide and use information needed for education.

According to the Wikipedia article, SOPA would require them to actively monitor every site that they link to, to ensure it does not host information that infringes upon copyright.

Library websites like the LSU Libraries website provide links to hundreds of thousands of online journal articles, websites, ebooks, and more, and consequences of a SOPA passage could likely affect their ability to do so.

While many websites are down today in protest, there are plenty of resources to learn about SOPA and PIPA and why it is being protested by educators, librarians, students, entrepreneurs, and others:

Read more:

Sigrid Kelsey is the Director of Library Communications and Publications at the LSU Libraries.

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