On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, this blog and many, many other sites including Wikipedia, the entire Cheezburger Network and the Center for Democracy & Technology will go dark. We are protesting the SOPA and PIPA bills looming in Congress, in which lawmakers who don’t understand how the Internet works are trying to throw a blanket over piracy.
The intent is to prevent rogue websites overseas from reaching U.S. users and pirating movies, etc. There are better ways to do this. Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, is a staunch supporter of open-source software and a major content producer. He made some very intelligent remarks that are summarized on this post at techdirt.com.
See more here at www.sopastrike.com, with a list of some of the sites participating.
These bills are too far-reaching and the enforcement is too vague to be anything but trouble. In this story on CNN, the White House has said it will not support the bills. Maybe our geeky Crackberry-toting president means it. Let’s hope so.
Writers should care about this because it could have a devastating effect on our content. If a website or blog gets tagged under these rules, it can be shut down. Fair use of licensed content may be targeted.
The really scary part is that accusation alone can allow the government to remove your content, block your posts and restrict your speech. So anyone who doesn’t like your opinions, or that you shared an LOLcat, can report you. And you can’t do squat until you prove you didn’t commit copyright infringement.
If you did, even unintentionally (and this goes on all over the Internet), you can’t make it right. The system we’re under now means if you copy a post here and post it on your own blog, I can email you and say “Hey, did you mean to link to this, or what,” thus giving you a chance to fix it and still reference the content.
SOPA and PIPA undermine the legal structure that permits the Internet to exist in its current accessible form. They are a step toward the censorship that plagues countries such as Iran, China and North Korea.
Please email or call your senator (BE POLITE!) and tell him/her you oppose this legislation. Thank you.