I’m sure those of you in the United States have heard about the two pieces of legislation attempting to be passed. This would be the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Both of these pieces of legislation threaten to fundamentally break the Internet. But why should people be opposed to either SOPA or PIPA?
Here’s a simple takeaway of how SOPA will affect the internet courtesy of Wikipedia.
The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who makes the request, the court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten such infringements within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.
The spirit of the law is to protect copyright holders which is a legitimate thing. However, the method used to enforce these copyright protections is far too punishing. One provision, which seems to have been shelved for now, is the ability for the US government to blacklist DNS addresses. Specifically if one of my writers posted an article that linked to a YouTube video or picture that someone makes a copyright claim on I am held liable. This could even be held true if someone links a YouTube video or copyrighted image in a comment. Not only am I held liable but the US can then choose to blacklist my domain name. This means that if you’re in the US and you type in http://www.nerdsoftheroundtable.com or search for it on Google you will not be able to find the web-site. The internet is fundamentally broken by this action!
There are many people who oppose both SOPA and PIPA. This includes sites such as Google, Yahoo!, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, LinkedIn, eBay, Mozilla Corporation, Roblox, Reddit, the Wikimedia Foundation, and human rights organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the ACLU, and Human Rights Watch.
To show support for the defeat of SOPA and PIPA some web-sites are even shutting down for a day. Earlier this month Reddit announced plans to shutdown their site for the entire day on January 18th. Additionally, Wikipedia announced that in an unprecedented move they would shut down their site for the entire day on January 18. WordPress has also announced methods to express you opposition to SOPA and PIPA. I will be making use of their tools to this and if you use WordPress I encourage you to do so as well.
Personally, I think it would great if sites like Facebook or Google shutdown for the day. Can you imagine the impact if people couldn’t update their Facebook status or search Google for things? SOPA has the ability to damage both these sites and showing just how much they would be missed would have a great impact on people.
I have been opposed to SOPA since I first read of it and heard a good deal of background on This Week in Tech (TWiT). To show my opposition to the act I even updated the site logo to reflect opposition to censorship. Clicking on this link leads one to AmericanCensorship.org, a site dedicated to the opposition of both SOPA and PIPA. This site also features multiple ways to oppose both SOPA and PIPA. My hope would be that if you oppose these pieces of legislation check the site to see how you can help defeat the passing of these laws.
In an effort to express my support in defeating both SOPA and PIPA the Nerds of the Round Table will be going dark on January 18th. No new posts, no tweets, no Facebook updates everything will be shutdown for the day. I have no expectation that I have anywhere near the influence of Wikipedia or Reddit but I want to do my part to help defeat SOPA and PIPA. Please join in and do that same.