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SOPA,PIPA Cause Controversy

Aired January 19, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish.)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Rumney Marsh Academy in Revere, Massachusetts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And welcome to --

GROUP: -- CNN Student News.

CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Well, thank you, guys, for getting things started for us today, and for doing so in two languages. This Thursday, we`re talking about hearing hazards, automobile ages, and we have a jewel of a "Before We Go" segment.

First up, SOPA and PIPA. These are two bills being considered in Congress right now. SOPA stands for the Stop Online Piracy Act. PIPA stands for the Protect IP Act. Both of them are focused on stopping Internet piracy. But these bills are causing a lot of controversy, especially on the Internet.


AZUZ (voice-over): If you went to Google`s front page yesterday, you saw this big black box covering up the logo. You also might have noticed that you couldn`t access some websites. The companies that run those sites were protecting against these bills.

On one side of this debate, you have people who argue that online piracy leads to lost income and lost jobs for companies that create content. The critics argue that SOPA and PIPA could turn into censorship. And others say Internet pirates will just find a way around them anyway.


AZUZ: It`s already illegal to steal someone else`s property online. Julianne Pepitone explains how SOPA is different, how it would work and the impact it could have, whether it does or doesn`t become law.


JULIANNE PEPITONE, CNNMONEY.COM: Content creators have battled against piracy for years. But it`s tough for U.S. companies to take action against overseas websites.

SOPA is an acronym for the Stop Online Piracy Act. It`s a proposed House bill that aims to crack down copyright infringement by restricting sites that host pirated content. SOPA`s main targets are rogue overseas websites, like The Pirate Bay, which are a troll for illegal downloads of music, movies and other content. Most of these websites make money off of ads, so SOPA goes after that revenue stream.

Under SOPA, if The Pirate Bay were found to be hosting pirated content, a judge could order U.S.-based ad networks and payment processors that serve The Pirate Bay to cut off the website completely.

In general, SOPA`s supporters are media companies like CNN parent TimeWarner and groups like the Motion Picture Association of America. SOPA`s opponents are big tech companies like Google, Facebook and AOL. Both sides tend to agree that protecting copyrighted content is a worthy goal.

But SOPA`s opponents say that the way SOPA is written effectively promotes censorship and is rife with unintended consequences, and that it blames websites for its individual users` actions.

On January 13th, the bill`s sponsors removed one of the most controversial parts of SOPA. As originally written, SOPA would have required Internet service providers to block access to websites that law enforcement officials deemed promoting piracy.

So if U.S. users tried to visit The Pirate Bay, their browser wouldn`t take them there. One day after that part of the bill was removed, the White House released a statement saying it would not support any legislation that tampers with the Internet`s fundamental architecture.

If you visit foreign websites that host copyrighted content, like The Pirate Bay, you could see them slowly start to disappear as their revenue streams are cut off. Theoretically, search engines like Google wouldn`t show flagged sites in their search results, and payment processors like PayPal couldn`t transmit funds to them.

If SOPA doesn`t pass, the current law would stay in place. For example, let`s say a user uploads a copyrighted song to a website. The copyright holder could then contact the website and ask them to take it down in a reasonable amount of time.


AZUZ: Experts say the chances of finding more survivors from a wrecked crew ship might be getting slim. Around two dozen people are still missing after the Costa Concordia ran aground last Friday off the Italian coast. Some family members say they`re not giving up hope that their loved ones could still be found.


AZUZ (voice-over): This is a satellite image of the Concordia. You can see how the ship rolled over on its side after it hit a rock, an amazing picture there for you. Investigators are looking at the path that the ship took, especially how close it was to that island you can see next to it.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Ms. Mangel`s business education classes at Westby High School in Westby, Montana. Where would you find the malleus, stapes and tympanum? Here we go. Are they parts of an engine, an ear, an orchestra or a television? You`ve got three seconds, go.

These are all parts of the human ear. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ: When your malleus and stapes are focused on what`s coming out of your headphones, it might make you less aware of what`s going on around you. That`s what this new report looked at. Scientists examined an increase in injuries for people who wear headphones while they`re walking.


AZUZ (voice-over): Between 2004 and 2005, there were 16 reported crashes involving pedestrians using headphones. Over the next seven years, that number nearly tripled. People were hit by bikes, cars, trains -- one of the authors said there are some limitations to the study. Some of these injuries don`t get reported, and it`s difficult to know why some of these accidents happen.

But some cities are considering taking action. New York had a proposal last year that would ban using a cell phone or MP3 player while you cross the street.


AZUZ: Well, shifting gears from people walking across streets to vehicles driving on them, according to one group, the cars on America`s roads are getting older. The average age, right around 11 years old now.


AZUZ (voice-over): That is the oldest since the group started tracking this statistic back in 1995. Service departments and repair shops might see this average age increase as a good thing. It could mean more work for them as people maintain their cars to keep them on the road.

But the companies that make new cars probably aren`t too thrilled, because if people are driving their old cars longer, it means they`re not buying new ones.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can ID me. I`m both a mammal and a carnivore. I breathe air, although I don`t live on land. I don`t have much of a sense of smell, but I make up for it with a great sense of hearing.

I`m a dolphin, and there are dozens of species of me around the world.


AZUZ: And some of those species work for the U.S. Navy. Dolphins have been part of the Marine Mammal Program since the 1960s. These animals have a natural sonar ability called echolocation and they use it to help the Navy identify potential dangers.

So you`ve heard of bomb-sniffing dogs? This is kind of like the underwater version. Kaj Larsen shows us how it all works.


KAJ LARSEN, CNN REPORTING (voice-over): Dolphins` jobs go beyond what the Navy calls swimmer interdiction. It turns out that they are good at finding not only people in the water but also things, things like mines.

BRADEN DURYEE, DOLPHIN TRAINER: So the animal is using its echolocation, looking out in front of the boat.

LARSEN (voice-over): Braden Duryee supervises operations for the Marine Mammal Program and works with the Navy`s Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit.

DURYEE: Over time we have to train the animals to discriminate between -- you know, it could be a lobster trap.

Oh, sorry. Got a positive. Right now the animal just went positive.

LARSEN: All right, so what`s she doing now?

DURYEE: Right now, she`s carrying the marker down to the mine shape that she`s told us she`s found. That means the marker has deployed. The diver`s going to go down, go to that anchor and then do a circle search, verify that the animal has found the target.

LARSEN (voice-over): In 2003, the Navy performed this operation in wartime, deploying mine-detecting dolphins to Iraq to ensure safe passage for humanitarian ships, meaning some of these dolphins are Iraq war veterans.

LARSEN: What about danger to the animal? You`re asking them to go get close to explosive devices underwater.

HARRIS: Mines are very complicated, high-grade machinery. They are not set off to go on dolphins. They are set off to go on ships.


AZUZ: Interesting stuff. We promised you today`s "Before We Go" segment would be a jewel. We weren`t kidding.


AZUZ (voice-over): We`re going to pause for a little suspense and there it is. An absolutely enormous emerald -- it`s real. This thing was found in Brazil. If you`re thinking it could make a good necklace, you`d better have a strong neck. It weighs 25 pounds and an appraiser estimates that it`s worth more than $1 million. But there are already people lining up to buy the sought-after stone.


AZUZ: One thing is for sure: the bidders who don`t get the emerald will certainly be green with envy. Probably got some stone-faced reactions from you guys, but we`re hoping that some of you thought it was a real gem.

Man. Emerald puns rock. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz.