I am not making my site dark today, largely because I feel that some of my readers would get confused and click away quickly rather than read the information about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) being considered in the U.S. House and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) headed for a vote in the U.S. Senate next week. And that’s the whole point of going dark.
These bills were designed to stop piracy — which is illegal and something we shouldn’t be doing. SOPA and PIPA are intended to protect the entertainment industry in the United States from foreign sites that profit from piracy and counterfeiting. And while I’ve heard and seen a lot of talk about why rich celebrities like Beyonce and Jay-Z need protecting, they are not the industry. The more than two million writers, editors, technicians and the like that work every day for middle-class salaries to make the magic happen for little Blue Ivy’s parents and the celeb universe are the industry. And their jobs deserve protection.
But the broad provisions in the bill could be used to censor many other sites, including the major ones most of us use every day, like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and the only slightly smaller ones (LOL) like mine, for incidental and accidental infringements.
But I’m not at all the expert. According to this video, Darth Vader is.
I have done some pretty extensive reading about these bills, and I know that the “break the Internet” doomsday prophecies out there are not the intent of it. But the bills would allow for the kinds of things being talked about, and with the right people in the right places (or the wrong ones, in this case), they could be carried out. And that makes SOPA and PIPA a threat to my liberty that I oppose. There has to be a better way.
I contacted my Congressman and Senators last month and again last week, and I hope you consider the issue and do as your conscience guides. Google has a petition online today that they are asking folks to sign. It’s a quick and easy way to lend your voice. Please take a look and consider it. Thanks.
Links to some more reading on SOPA and PIPA:
- Stop Online Piracy Act (actual bill text)
- Protect IP Act (actual bill text)
- Stop American Censorship
- Don’t Break the Internet (Stanford Law Review)
- All About PIPA and SOPA (Lifehacker)
- What is SOPA? (Gizmodo)
- Motion Picture Association of America blog