Students should sacrifice free music for Internet freedom

With the recent suspension of the proposed SOPA bill by Congress, many students and young people are emitting a sigh of relief. Yet this doesn’t mean we are safe from an intense governmental censorship of what we see on the Internet.

As young people, we expect our Internet surfing to be untainted by any government regulation. If we still want these rights to be ours, it’s essential to examine why the government is trying to put such a law into effect.

The music industry has suffered a hit since the emergence of the Internet. According to, the official website for the Recording Industry Association of America, from 2004 through 2009, approximately 30 billion songs were downloaded from file-sharing networks. The same site reports that since the emergence of Napster in 1999, music sales in the United States have dropped 47 percent.

The idea of SOPA being enacted is a legitimate scare for us all, but when criticizing the idea of anti-piracy legislation, are we a part of the problem or the solution? While you may not be the cause of the problem, there’s a good chance you have a handful of friends who are. We all know somebody who pirates music or downloads content illegally. It’s imperative that we as young people start the movement that puts an end to piracy.

While SOPA is on Congress’ backburner for now, it will more than likely return to the floor on Capitol Hill. The bill is designed to censor much more than torrents and file-sharing websites. Refraining from illegally downloading music is a good first step in ensuring we do our part to avoid a colossal governmental censorship of the epitome of free speech called the Internet.

This raises a different question entirely: is it the government’s job to intervene in such an extreme way to censor the content we as citizens of a free world digest?

It all comes back to us being the solution or the problem. When a new piece of legislation arrives on the desks of lawmakers who will censor our online content, let’s make sure we can all say truthfully we followed the current laws to the best of our ability.

Those whose brows crinkle at the concept of SOPA, but commit piracy, are simply ruining it for the rest of us who follow the rules. It’s important to note that SOPA and anti-piracy laws cover a much wider scope than piracy in the music industry and any other kind of piracy committed by young people.

Let’s be the generation that takes strides towards ensuring that our Internet will be unscathed by the hands of bureaucrats and Big Brother. While our efforts might still fail, we must do all we can to prevent anything similar to SOPA being passed.