System & Web Librarian
What if you could not access Google, Wikipedia or the handmade shopping mecca Etsy? Do you get your news from Reddit or Wired? What if you went online one day and found not only those sites, but many others were all crippled or unavailable due to censorship? Sound implausible or far fetched? If you meandered around the Internet today, you may have found the previously listed sites and thousands more were willingly crippling themselves to illustrate the effect of the potentiality of the passing of Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (Pip).
In short, SOPA and PIPA were written to protect business, companies, individuals from having their work stolen, sold, or used in non-legal manners. This sounds great – in theory. In reality, the wording of both acts were written too vague and the potentiality could be incredibly damaging. For example, say you like to make your own videos to popular songs and upload them to YouTube. If the person who owns the copyright for the song complained to YouTube, YouTube would send you a notification to remove the video. At that point, you could either remove the video yourself or present that it’s used under Fair Use. Under the current law, it’s all handled pretty easy going terms. Under SOPA/PIPA however, the action would be a bit drastic – not only would the video be removed, but YouTube would/could be blocked not only to you but also your provider for your Internet. That five minute video you lovingly created would not be an instant viral hit as you planned but rather, it could be the start of a chain reaction of censorship. And if you’re like me, a fan of Tumblr and the FY memes and mashups, those too would be all gone.
Opponets of SOPA/PIPA are currently pushing to to illustrate these acts are strikes against freedom of speech and will not only censor new work, but will curtail creativity in a big way. Fair Use allows people the ability to use existing materials, within the confines of the law, creatively as long as they can prove it falls under the Fair Use legalese. SOPA/PIPA would strip that right out.
For more information on SOPA/PIPA:
H.R.3261 — Stop Online Piracy Act (Introduced in House – IH)
SOPA, PIPA: What you need to know
How SOPA Would Affect You
SOPA/PIPA: Just the Facts
Sampling of sites participating in the January 18th great Internet blackout:
Google (Name blacked out) | icanhascheezburger Network of sites (Purveyors of LOLCats and Failblog) | Reddit | Mozilla | Flickr (Users are encouraged to darkent their photos to reflect how SOPA/PIPA would look on the Flickr site) | Regretsy | WordPress | EFF | Tucows | BoingBoing | Etsy (Black banner on landing page) | Tumblr (Landing page if logged in is blacked out, option to black out your Tumblr blogs) | Wikipedia (Only the English sites – mobile and apps not affected) | Craftzine | Make Magazine
A more comprehensive list of participating sites is available here.