Why SOPA Hurts Education

January 7, 2012

By: Victoria Holliday

SOPA threatens access to information, which is the foundation of the Internet.We’ve written before about the power of the Open Education Resource movement — from Internet platforms like Kahn Academy, which provide educational content and services, to using Twitter in the classroom, and the overall general rise of the Internet’s role in how we learn. These are crucial aspects in making education accessible. CA Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is adding to the open education movement with a bill to make certain college textbooks available online for free.

But a bill in Congress called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is currently threatening this sharing and collaboration of global knowledge.

What is SOPA?

The SOPA bill expands the ability of law enforcement and copyright holders to shut down any website that hosts pirated intellectual property. Under the law, websites could be punished and shutdown for the infringing actions of their users. SOPA marks a fundamental change in Internet law, as it shifts liability for copyright piracy from the infringer to the host website.

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Opponents of the bill, of which there are many including Facebook, Google and Twitter, say the bill is tantamount to censorship because it prevents open data, would undermine high-tech innovation, and erodes free speech and civil rights.

The Internet Is Vital to Keeping Education Accessible

A Learning in the 21st Century 2011 Trends report discussed the increased role online classes play in student education. The report found that more than 40 percent of students now say online classes play a key role in their education.

As more and more people use the Internet to learn, keeping the Internet accessible is invaluable. SOPA threatens access to information, which is the foundation of the Internet. Copyright enforcement is important, but it should not override access to information and civil rights.


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