We’re Shutting Down to Protest SOPA
We’re shutting down our website tomorrow, Wednesday, January 18th in protest of the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
This bill would give the US Justice Department broad and poorly defined new powers to invade all of our online privacy and security to clamp down on websites that host material with disputed copyrights. The bill is hotly opposed by a number of internet giants including including Wikipedia, eBay, Google, Twitter and, as of last Friday, GoDaddy. The domain registration company had been one of the few internet companies speaking up in support of SOPA but reversed course after Reddit and other companies led a grassroots boycott campaign.
SOPA would affect all of us by ”censoring any web site capable of providing its users with the means of promoting pirated content or allowing the process,” writes Adam Dachis of Lifehacker. That is, any site that allows you to post pirated content — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, etc., etc. — can have a claim brought against it even for “something as minor as you posting a copyrighted image to your Facebook page, or piracy-friendly information in the comments of a post such as this one.” Under SOPA, a site would have only five days to submit an appeal if a claim of piracy is brought against it.
In addition, SOPA would create an “Internet blacklist” that would promote online censorship, eliminate jobs and squash freedom of speech. Under SOPA, the US Justice Department would have the right to police websites that host material whose copyright is disputed and not only sites in the US, but aboard.
Even more, the US could shut down websites and also go after the companies that support them technically or through payment systems, such as Paypal.
SOPA Supporters and Opponents
Dachis notes that SOPA could “negatively change the Internet as we know it.” As Timothy B. Lee at Ars Technica points out, SOPA’s opponents include GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul as well as members of libertarian Think Tanks including the Cato Institute and Erick Erickson of the conservative political blog RedState. James Gattuso, a senior research fellow from the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, argues that SOPA “enforces private property rights at the expense of other values, such as innovation on the Internet, security of the Internet, and freedom of communication.”
SOPA was sponsored by a Republican Rep. Lamar Smith (TX). The House anti-piracy bill and a Senate version, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), have powerful backers in the form of the the United States Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Tax Reform, the Motion Picture Association of America, the American Federation of Musicians, the Directors Guild of America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Screen Actors Guild. SOPA, says Declan McCullagh on CNET, ”represents the latest effort from the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and their allies to counter what they view as rampant piracy on the Internet, especially offshore sites such as ThePirateBay.org.”
SOPA Will Not Stop Piracy
Even if SOPA passes, it will not end online piracy, but punish the honest people. If the Napster scandal taught us anything, it’s that people won’t stop illegally downloading just because some people were punished. Even if a website gets shut down, there will be three more waiting to take its place. Law enforcement officials simply would not be able to keep up with them.
The House of Representatives needs to look at the bigger picture. Their bill would transform the Internet from a place of free expression to one that is subject to government censorship. Please visit SOPA Strike for more information, or contact your US Repesentative or US Senators immediately to express your opinion.
Short URL: http://thepresidency.us/?p=9785