A whole lot of popular websites, such as Wikipedia, Mozilla, Reddit and the terribly addicting Cheezeburger.com are participating in tomorrow’s planned protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act. Some are going to go “black” Wednesday, effectively disappearing for the day. Others are gong to simply run banners or encourage community members do something to raise awareness of the bill.
WordPress is one of the latter; so you lucky spambots will get to keep reading Bullp*ss.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve already heard a lot about SOPA. Supporters claim it will stop Internet piracy, and opponents claim it is Internet censorship that will change the very nature of the Internet forever.
As of today, the bill has already been put on hold indefinitely, until some of the “kinks” could be worked out. However, the bill, H.R. 3261.IH, isn’t dead in the water yet, and its senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (s.968), is still in the works.
There is a lot written about SOPA, for, and against. If you want the different arguments, opinions based on what some people think the bill will do, just type SOPA into Google and get reading.
I read the bill myself. It gives the government the power to do several things if a copyright infringement complaint is lodged against a website, and seems to focus mainly on sites originating outside of the United States. Basically, offending websites would become “unfindable”. Pay sites like Paypal would have to cut all ties to said website, and advertisers would have to deny the site services. It also deals with increasing the penalties for copyright infringement, the streaming of copyrighted content, and gives immunity to, ISPs, payment sites, domain registrars, search engines, and the like, for taking the above actions voluntarily.
Mind you, I have a hard time reading whatever language they write these things in. I also don’t have the greatest knowledge of copyright law.
I don’t know what to think about SOPA. It is the kind of thing that makes me mad, because reasonable issues like internet piracy, who exactly would enforce the changes, and what the “unintended” side effects the bill might cause are lost beneath big media’s promotion and the screaming reactionaries calling it the first step on a slippery slope.
Personally, I think something does need to be done about internet piracy. I don’t think everything should be free, and I think there should be some restrictions on who can use what when it comes to copyrighted material. However, there are already are plenty of laws regarding that; laws that don’t give the government the ability to make a website disappear based on allegations of copyright infringement. There is a lot of room for abuse there, as we’ve already seen regarding policies on copyright infringement.
That being said, I’m not sure this law, if enacted, would necessarily kill fan websites, or sites like Youtube, forever. Again, I don’t know that much about copyright law, but I’m guessing half of what I seen on the internet is already copyright infringement under current laws already. I doubt companies aren’t going to take the time, or spend the resources to go after every, single, thing. They don’t right now. Every guy posting his favorite pictures of Twilight Sparkle on a Tumblr account is going to end up in jail.