Wednesday, January 18, 2012
This Post Not Brought to You by SOPA or PIPA
I'm sure you've seen many sites on the Internet today, including Wikipedia and Google, going dark or posting banners to raise awareness of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Both acts are intended to fight against piracy of copyrighted content, which is nominally a good thing. Currently, copyright holders have legal support for getting their copyrighted content taken down from a web site that is using it without permission. The proposed acts would extend this to make unauthorized use of copyrighted content on websites a crime, allowing the government to actually shut down a web site that is found to have unauthorized copyrighted content on it, force other websites not to link to that site, and force advertisers and sponsors to withhold money from that site. However, this ends up having much bigger repercussions than just being able to shut down foreign sites streaming pirated movies. It means that if I post a copyrighted video to Facebook or YouTube, the government would have the right to shut down Facebook or Youtube themselves.
Even the lolcat that I'm using to illustrate this post was originally created for icanhazcheesburger.com; according to their terms of service, copyright remains with the lolcat creator (though they have a license). By my using this picture, the proposed acts would allow my blog to be shut down. Actually, they mean that Blogger.com could be shut down, since I used that site to post copyrighted content.
More in-depth information available at these sites:
Google: More about SOPA and PIPA
Wikipedia: SOPA and PIPA - Learn more
Electronic Freedom Foundation: How PIPA and SOPA Violate White House Principles Supporting Free Speech and Innovation
Infographic: What is the Stop Online Piracy Act, and why should I care?
The amount of potential censorship that could result from these acts is quite contrary to the free and open dissemination of information that the Internet currently upholds in America. So go call your senator if you disagree, send a message using forms from several of these sites, or sign one of the petitions.