By Kim Heitman, EFA Secretary

The battle over proposed anti-piracy bills in the US is not just about Hollywood versus the internet, it is a fight between the past and the future. It also throws up a real danger that the laws could become an easy way to silence critics.

Internet sites such as Wikipedia, the user-built online encyclopaedia, yesterday "blacked-out" in protest against the two bills going through the US Congress.

The websites hope to draw public attention to the draconian provisions of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

Internet experts say the laws would allow owners of copyrights or trademarks to shut down US websites; block foreign websites or freeze online banking accounts without judicial order. Infringers would be liable to massive new penalties and criminalisation of harmless activities such as uploading video clips of members of a family singing copyrighted songs.

See the whole article at The Age.

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