On January 18th, a good chunk of the Web will be going “dark” to protest SOPA, or the “Stop Online Piracy Act.” SOPA is a bill currently in the US House of Representatives that would basically give conglomerates carte blanche to take down (and even block the domain names of) sites they deem as “promoting piracy” or “infringing upon their intellectual property.”
Given the excessively broad nature of this bill, and depending on how hardball the conglomerates want to play, not only could little sites like mine theoretically be threatened (“Anthony’s Notes used graphics illustrating Static fighting villains and Superboy shaking hands with JFK…”), but had this been the law years ago, sites like YouTube or Flickr wouldn’t be allowed to exist. Which leads to another flaw of SOPA: that it punishes the entire site for an infraction, even if the majority of the material on the site isn’t infringing. In short, SOPA would fundamentally break how the Web as we know it functions.
Unsurprisingly, SOPA (like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act over a decade ago) hasn’t gotten much discussion (as in none or almost none) on American TV networks. However, NPR, newspapers, and online venues (as well as some non-American broadcasters like the BBC) have reported on the bill.
While this site’s staying up on January 18 (I don’t think I get enough traffic in one day to merit shutting down), I did think writing this post (which will last indefinitely) might be much more useful in the long run.
Links that might be useful for more about SOPA (and its just-as-bad, near-identical twin sibling bill in the Senate named PIPA, or the “Protect IP Act“):
- The comic industry (well, aside from DC and Marvel, whose corporate parents back SOPA) is affected by SOPA as well, and has reacted accordingly: Comics Alliance on SOPA
- Ars Technica has an article on the sites participating in the January 18 blackout.
- Gizmodo also has a nice article explaining SOPA.
- Stop SOPA, a site dedicated to information about (and protesting) SOPA.
- Finally, there’s contacting one’s Congressman about SOPA, of course. (Yes, I contacted mine…)