Today many internet sites, including Mozilla and Wikipedia, are blacking out their sites to protest SOPA and PIPA. For those of you who don’t know, SOPA stands for the “Stop Online Piracy Act.” PIPA is the “Protect IP Act” with IP standing for “intellectual property.” Just judging by the names, they sound like a good thing, right? I mean, if you create something to sell online or write something and don’t want it plagiarized, why wouldn’t protecting it be a good idea?
It’s a case of our government once again giving something a helpful sounding name, and using it to screw up our lives. Anyone heard of the PATRIOT ACT? Thanks to that you can’t fly without taking the chance of being, what under any other circumstances would be considered, sexually assaulted. It’s what gives the government the right to monitor anything and everything they want. Private phone calls? No such thing. And I’m not even going to get into the practice of arresting “suspected” terrorists (or people suspected of a connection with terrorism) and holding them secretly without bail, without lawyers, for an unspecified period without so much as letting their families know what happened to them in some cases.
So what are SOPA and PIPA really and why are they so bad? Their original intent is a good one–stopping copyright infringement. They are, unfortunately, written in such a way that what they actually do is create a McCarthy-style environment rife with Blacklisting, bans and enforced monitoring of ever bit of information on the web.
That means if I say something like: “While I don’t promote internet piracy, it is amazing to see what is available out there. For example, on KickAss Torrents you can download almost anything.” and WordPress allows me to post it, the Government has the right to shut down WordPress. Not just my blog. ALL OF WORDPRESS.
These acts would basically require all sites to monitor every word of content on their sites for potential copyright infringement risks. For user-content heavy sites (Facebook, Twitter, any and all blogging sites, etc) this is impossible. It would mean reading every post, every comment, every everything 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This would, in effect, kill the internet. Goodbye self-expression. Goodbye self-promotion for authors and small business owners, and anyone else who uses the internet to create something.
These Acts could be passed as early as January 24th. That gives you six days to contact your congressperson and express your opinion. If they pass these acts, you can kiss a “free and open” internet goodbye.
For a somewhat lighter (and definitely NSFW) explanation of SOPA and PIPA, visit The Oatmeal. But don’t say I didn’t warn you–The Oatmeal can be a strange and scary place.
- Why Blackout? STOP SOPA/PIPA (emmiemears.com)
- Wikipedia “Blackouts” To Protests Against PIPA and SOPA (techpluto.com)