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Harrison Library Director Speaks Out Against SOPA

HARRISON, N.Y. – National attempts to stop online copyright infringement and theft have left Harrison's library director concerned, to say the least. Galina Chernykh said these efforts are misguided and won't solve the problems they set out to fix.

Controversial anti-piracy bills known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate companion, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), have taken over the airwaves for debate after being introduced late last year in Washington. Chernykh said they posed a particular threat to local libraries.

"Of course I am against SOPA and PIPA," Chernykh said. "They won't solve the problem and have the potential to negatively impact fundamental library principles."

The bills were written to stop copyright infringement and theft of intellectual property and received support primarily from the entertainment industry. Opponents of the bill have said the legislation would censor expression on the Internet.

Chernykh said the potential threat was more than alarming for library directors like herself.

"I am concerned, very concerned," Chernykh said. "Our library websites provides links to hundreds of thousands of online journal articles, websites, e-books, and more. The consequences of a SOPA passage could likely affect our ability to do so."

Chernkyh said living in Ukraine showed her firsthand what censorship could do to society many years ago. She said those experiences taught her the importance of free information.

In protest, some major websites including Google, Wikipedia and Reddit have taken steps to express opposition on their sites by either blacking out completely or providing online petitions for users to sign.

For Chernykh, action is a must.

"Let’s fight it. The government should not protect media companies’ profit," Chernykh said. "Companies should innovate, evolve and change in order to make money in the digital era."

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