As many of our readers have probably noticed by now, today is the SOPA Blackout day across the Internet. What is that? Well, in simple terms, it’s a day (or 12 hours for some sites) where the web admin essentially pulls their website off the Internet in protest of 2 bills currently sitting before U.S. Congress: The SOPA (or Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). While these bills are sitting before the American Government, they have the power to forever change the Internet for the entire World.To borrow some text from our server provider, Softlayer (something I would not be able to do if these Bills pass):
As it is defined today, PIPA has a stated goal of providing the US Government and copyright holders an additional arsenal of tools to aide in taking down ‘rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods.’ The Senate bill details that an “information location tool shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures, as expeditiously as possible, to remove or disable access to the Internet site associated with the domain name set forth in the order.” In addition, it must delete all hyperlinks to the offending “Internet site.
They also have a great write-up on SOPA, but in laymen’s terms, if a site, no matter where it is hosted or what content it actually has on it, gets reported for sharing a link to a filesharing site, or posting pictures that belong to someone else, or someone is posting the entire Harry Potter books as PDF for download to your ebook reader, then your ISP would be required to do everything it can to keep you from going to that site. Doesn’t sound too bad, really… until you consider that there is no actual investigation taking place first to make sure that copyright infringement is really going on. Maybe you are an Indie game developer and you are using torrents to release your new game to the global market. Maybe you are starting a news blog, and using a picture from the Apple website while talking about their newest release, the iPhone12G (no, this is not a press release, move on now search bots). Or, maybe you are J.K. Rowling deciding you have enough money now and want the entire Planet to experience the joys of Harry Potter books (no, I have not read them, so I have to go based off a review posted on Amazon, which I would not be allowed to do in a SOPA world)… yeah, okay, long shot on that last one. Maybe you are self-published and hosting your latest works yourself.
Basically, any site owner could be found guilty under the SOPA/PIPA act and lose their sites, all because one person reported them for illegal sharing, without even checking to see if it was allowed, or even true. The Government doesn’t have time in their schedules to investigate each report, so it’s easier to “pull the plug” and let things sort themselves out. No investigation of ownership, or validity of the claims.
Sites like Wikipedia would vanish. As would reddit. icanhazcheezeburger, also known as LOLCats would be gone (I just know Tami’s mother is in panic stage on hearing that). Even Facebook would face the risk of filtering and/or blocking due to SOPA/PIPA (really, how many pictures on Facebook Pages do you think are public domain?). And a site does not have to actually be American to be impacted by this.
We at Village Gamer are also opposed to SOPA and PIPA. While we may not be actively participating in the blackout (due to the fact that it is a news day, and the press releases keep coming), you can be sure that we (or I, as the IT guy here) will be watching things very closely as they develop.
SOPA and PIPA are American Bills… but they deal Worldwide damage. Think of how the Internet works in China. The American Government telling the whole World what it can and cannot see on the Internet. To say that they would break the Internet is an understatement. It would completely destroy the Internet, and create a new Network where the Government controls what you can and cannot see. Stop SOPA. Stop PIPA. Stop closed Internet. Start Open Thinking.