Wikipedia made its stance on SOPA and PIPA known by blacking out for 24 hours last month.

Piracy has been rampant for years now and whether it’s knock off videos, copied DVDs or fake clothes, we’ve all come into contact with counterfeit goods once in a while.

The invention and burgeoning popularity of the Internet over the last decade however, has led to more problems for rights holders – film studios, writers and musicians have all seen their income dwindle as people share creative goods illegally via peer-to-peer websites.

To combat this, the American government responded by attempting to pass two laws – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). These somewhat draconian attempts to prevent online piracy were met with significant opposition, with SOPA in particular fuelling the wrath of online giants such as YouTube, Facebook, Google and Yahoo!, as well as human rights organisations Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and millions of people worldwide.

Those involved in the industries worst hit by piracy are convinced that something needs to be done while the public are worried any new laws curtailing what the Internet is all about – freedom of speech. So what can be done? Is there an alternative to SOPA and PIPA that will suit both parties and if so, how could they be implemented? Although it will be tough to please both creative industry executives and the public, there are a few alternatives that have been mooted since clashes over the subject came to a head.

A recent US study has confirmed that people who illegally download and share music and film aren’t necessarily against paying for this creative property but feel they’re priced out of obtaining them legally.

The popularity of music and film streaming services have confirmed this with the likes of Spotify, LOVEFiLM and Netflix all having some success with their subscription models, but it seems they are still not cheap enough to convince people to stop the piracy of content. These companies have boosted jobs for IT developers and tech professionals but are they the answer to piracy?

One of the organisations firmly against legislation such as SOPA and PIPA has come up with a different solution. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) believes, quite rightly, that the current agreement is no good to either the music, film and record companies (who are losing money) or the public (who are being made to feel like criminals). The EFF has therefore come up with Voluntary Collective Licensing.

This idea works because it realises piracy will not stop, while artists deserve to be compensated for their work and therefore suggests an arrangement to suit both. “Collecting societies” are set up by rights holders to offer music and film fans the ability to stream and download as much content as they like for a small monthly fee. The fans can do what they want, how they want as long as they pay each month while the cash generated is split between the film and music studios and artists responsible for the creative output. Hopefully this will boost competition meaning the consumer will be happy and give something back to those responsible for creating the film, album or book.

This is of course not the only alternative but compared to the dangerous consequences that come with SOPA and PIPA, it’s an idea that would hopefully go some way to please all parties involved. A new way of combating piracy will surely lead to more IT jobs so get your thinking caps on and join the debate!