If you're reading this, you're probably a blogger (or enjoy blogs) and if you're a blogger I'm sure you appreciate that you have the freedom to do such a thing. Being able to get your voice out there so easily is a great freedom. We're very lucky to have the liberty to speak our minds and to have the internet to be able to facilitate that.
If you haven't heard about SOPA and PIPA, you should. Because they're going to affect you if they're passed.
The Stop Online Piracy Act and Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act sound good enough if you only listen to their name, however the implications of passing these will be much broader. These poorly written acts are too broad and use too much ambiguous language which means boundaries aren't clear. Not to mention they are devoid of any technical understanding of of the internet. They don't understand the linking & sharing nature of this global network. Sure we want to protect copyright, but at what cost?
Here's a few facts about these brother acts:
1. They will destroy the current structure of the internet - These bills give the government the ability to tell companies and websites like Google to take down links to certain sites that are deemed in violation of copyright laws. A website would have to cut all ties to that supposedly offending site and get rid of any reference to the site. Not only that, but they can't link to anything on that domain name ever again. This means that even if the site is 99% legal content, the links are severed.
2. They will censor the web - There is already copyright protection on the internet. Currently under DMCA an infringing site is sent a take-down notice after a take-down request form is properly filled out. However these take-down forms are often overused already and end up sending take down notices to people who's content is within the realm of fair use. Under SOPA a site is guilty until proven innocent. There’s no process to take down specific content on a domain, just censorship of the whole domain. There's no due process under the new system. Accusations alone could shut down a site, leaving the website owner with the burden of proving their innocence in order to be taken off the blacklist.
3. They will hinder innovation - People will be too scared to create new sites because it’s expensive to police all content. If you have a site where users can post their own content, you become liable for everything they post. Who wants to be liable for others? Nobody. There goes the site. As an article from techdirt.com said, "In a post-SOPA world, the people behind YouTube look at the numbers and talk to their lawyers and wonder why they should assume so much more liability and extra costs. BLAM. There goes YouTube. BLAM. There goes Kickstarter. BLAM. There goes a bunch of other internet companies that used to provide the tools we needed to create, distribute, promote and monetize content.”
4. They will be expensive and detrimental to the economy - SOPA shifts liability to the internet companies and service providers. This means they have to be constantly policing their content which means paying people to do so. New sites won’t be able to get their feet off the ground because it will be so expensive to hire lawyers, have people to patrol the website for offenses, and develop censorship utilities.The legislation involving these bills is expensive too. “The Congressional Budget office has estimated that PIPA alone would cost taxpayers at least $47 million over 5 years.” (source)
In my opinion: Introducing American censorship into the internet is not worth keeping the pockets of big entertainment companies full. They need to innovate and change to make the most of the internet model. If they can't do that then they deserve to go under. Other companies that cater to today's consumer will survive. And that's the way capitalism works. Let's not make legislation that allows them to rest on their laurels and not innovate while destroying the current, wonderful internet we have. Thank you.
Of course, you don't have to believe me. Here's my sources and sites to check out if you want to read for yourself and learn more:
If you'd like to do something about this, email/call/write your state representatives.