Residents offer opinions on proposed Stop Online Piracy Act

January 18, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • Renner

Hagerstown resident Kelly Renner, 50, was not shy Wednesday about her opposition to the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, that Congress is considering.

She said online companies should not be required to make sure people are not getting content for free illegally on their websites.

"I don't think they can completely control it," she said. "I don't think there is any way they can stop online piracy 100 percent."

Renner, who owns Carol and Company on West Washington Street in downtown Hagerstown, was among city residents who offered their opinions when asked about SOPA on Wednesday.

SOPA is a bill that, if passed, would give the federal government more power to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting access to websites that host or allow pirated content.

Wikipedia was among a number of popular Internet sites that shut down Wednesday in protest of the bill.

Renner said she supports the websites shutting down in protest.

"If that's what it's going to take to make Congress understand that this is a problem, then that's what they have to do," she said. "We have a website, and we don't always have the resources to check it everyday and make sure that things are not being posted on there that we would not want."

Anthony Shaffer, 52, said he did not see a problem with the bill because of the problem with pirating.

"If they stop it, then artists and actors can get the money that they deserve," he said. "People are pirating movies and music, and they shouldn't be doing it."

Jason Shumaker, 32, said that while he thinks cracking down on online piracy was a good idea, he does not support the way the federal government wants to do it.

"It is the individual's responsibility to control the content on his or her website, but the government should give them parameters," he said. "Stopping online piracy is a great idea but there needs to be some leeway."

Shumaker said he thinks it is important to address the issue because of the future of businesses.

"The Internet is the future of sales and retail," he said. "Let online companies build themselves up and get everything together, and then we can deal with the issue of online piracy."

Nino Smith said he thinks pirated content should not be illegal in the first place.

"I don't know why anybody would want to stop it," said Smith, 20. "That's how many people get their music."

Regarding the fact that people can lose money from online pirating, Smith said he did not see a problem with that, either.

"How much money do they need to make?" he said. "I know plenty of aspiring rappers and singers, and they don't mind their stuff being put online for free."

Cameron Rice, 27, said that people can find ways to make money online.

"Everybody makes their money somehow; there's always a will, and there's a way," he said. "If people really want to make money then they will find ways to reach out to new customers online."

Rice said that he did not support SOPA.

"The government should spend less time in our freedom of information and focus more on the economy," he said.

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