What is SOPA and Why is Everyone Protesting It?

The hot topic for today is certainly SOPA.  Huge online companies such as Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, and Wired are protesting SOPA by blacking out their websites.  But what is it and why is everyone so pissed about it?

SOPA is the ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ that is currently making its way through Congress.  It was introduced on October 26th, 2011 by Texas Republican Lamar Smith along with 12 co-sponsors.  The basis of the bill is to allow intellectual property owners (i.e. movie studios, record companies, etc.) to pull the plug on ANY websites they could make a copyright claim against.  So if a movie studio found that a website was illegally streaming one of their movies they would have the ability to request that Google remove the site from their search results, that PayPal stop accepting payments from the site, that all ad services remove their content from the site, and that the ISP prevent anyone from visiting the site.

Technically, SOPA was introduced to target overseas companies that are pirating content.  However, because the U.S. has no power to demand that those companies get shut down, SOPA plans to control content via U.S. operators.  That is where companies such as PayPal and Google come into play.  The government has no power to shut down a website run in Sweden, but SOPA would give it the power to tell Google (a U.S. company) that it is not allowed to show the Swedish company in their search results.

The wording of the bill is very broad and that is what has online technology companies so spooked.  The SOPA bill states that any site that “facilitates” copyright infringement could be taken down.  This means that if you upload a copyrighted photo to facebook and they do not have you take it down IMMEDIATELY that facebook could end up on the “Internet Blacklist” of websites that are being shut down.  If SOPA passed, within a week, the government could have cause to take down almost every single social network.  This obviously would cause mass turmoil and not have a good ending.

The ironic thing about the SOPA bill is that is simply would not work.  If you are a site that is truly profiting from pirated materials and you were shut down, all you need to do is buy a new domain and start right back up again.  That will simply not bring an end to piracy it will just make the companies pirating these materials that much more elusive.

At the end of the day, SOPA is simply a slippery slope that could easily end the era of free and open communication on the internet.  We agree that piracy is not cool and should be stopped, but this is certainly not the way to do it.  It leaves the door to censorship by the government way to open.  This bill has the ability to negatively affect any and all businesses and media outlets on the internet.  So now that you are educated on SOPA please do your part and head over to Google to sign the petition against SOPA!  And, if you are feeling extra passionate feel free and pass a letter citing your protest to your local representative.


After the worldwide protest against the SOPA bill Rep. Lamar Smith, the sponsor of the bill, made an announcement that he was postponing voting on the bill indefinitely. He stated that he still wanted to move forward with a piracy bill but that he would work with the major online companies to find the best solution.

Where do you use your smartphone?

Google conducted a survey about the use of smartphones by their owners. Most of the information Google found out was not surprising. However, some statistics were more surprising than others.

These days, smartphones are devices like the iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices. Most likely, if your phone has a large screen, internet access, and can download an “app”, you are probably carrying around a smartphone.

Google found that:

  • 93% of smartphone owners use their device while at home.
  • 81% of smartphone users surf the web on their phone; 77% of people search on their smartphones.
  • 72% of smartphone owners use their phones while being exposed and consuming other forms of media.
  • 33% of device owners have phone in hand and use while watching their favorite TV show.
  • 45% of smartphone owners use the calendar and other time management apps on their phones to help manage their activities.
  • 39% of smartphone consumers admit to using their device while in the bathroom.
  • 1 in 5 users would give up their cable TV to continue owning and using their smartphone device.
  • 9 out of 10 users have taken action after conducting a mobile search, which resulted in 53% of those users completing a purchase.
  • Of those who have searched via smartphone, 53% of those users have switched from smartphone to their computers to finish their research.
  • Local search is obvious, 95% of smartphone owners have searched for local info.
  • Of the 95% who searched locally, 61% called the business, 59% visit the searched business, and 44% completed a purchase at the business they searched for.
  • 79% of smartphone owners use their devices to assist them while shopping, 70% of those shoppers use the phone while in the store.
  • 35% of users make a purchase while using their smartphones.
  • 71% of smartphone users search a certain product or business because of an advertisement they saw while using their device.
  • 82% of smartphone users notice the ads within the apps they have on their phones.
  • 42% of consumers who notice the ads continue and click the ad.
  • 49% of those who move further with an app’s advertisement will move forward and end up purchasing from that app.

It is incredible to see how advertising can influence consumers.  The creation of the smartphone has really changed the world and how we use technology.  The new and greatest piece of technology will come out shortly but for now the smartphone is the latest and greatest phenomenon.  Do you have a smartphone?  What apps do you use on your smartphone?  I’m a fan of my weather app!  What is your favorite app?   What do you use your smartphone for? Let us know!


With love,
Kat VonD

I’m reading Precalculus: Mathematics for Calculus

All GOOGLEy-eyed

Being a college student makes paying for lots of different services difficult, if not impossible. This is where Google comes into play. Google offers many free resources that you can use to be more efficient in your school work and in your life in general. Some of their services can also be used just for fun, like google trends. Check this out with your buddies, it shows you a graph displaying the amount of searches for a certain topic over a specified period of time. Go ahead, try Ham Vs. Turkey, Biggie Vs. Pac, place some bets, make it interesting. Check out these awesome Google services that you can use for free.

1(800)-GOOG-411. Who still pays up to 75 cents by calling an operator to find an address or phone number? Not me! Try Goog411 – it’s a voice automated free information service, and when you pick the business you want to connect to just say “text message” or “map it” and Google will automatically send a text message with more details or a map directly to your phone.

Google Books – This a great resource for doing papers and research. This Google service allows you to search for the full text of tons of books for information or just for reading.

Google Docs – This service from Google allows you to upload documents onto the Google interface and share them with your colleagues and classmates. This service makes group projects a breeze even if your group can’t all meet somewhere at the same time.

Google Scholar – This service allows you to search published papers, opinions and journals. A great resource for term papers. Just make sure to annotate it right.

Google has tons of other services such as “Sketch-up” – a free 3d modeling program, Calendar, Dictionary, News, Instant Messaging, Translate, and various applications for mobile phones. Get some Google in your life.

If you need help using Google Services, check out this book. Google Search and Tools in a Snap



I am reading Social Psychology