18 Jan 2012

Internet Blackout Day – Stop SOPA / PIPA Laws – Web Protest – January 18, 2012

Internet, Internet Laws, News, Technology No Comments

pipa sopa internetblackout

Internet Blackout Day – Stop SOPA – Stop PIPA – The warning became a reality on the Internet this 1/18/2012

Major companies decided to “blackout” their website services today – January 18, 2012 –  in protest of the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) bills that are still pending in congress. These bills are considered in direct volition of constitutional rights of “freedom of speech” and innovation. This will go down as the largest online protest in history.

PIPA – PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act)

SOPA – Stop Online Piracy Act

Where both SOPA and PIPA are proposed to help law enforcement to fight online trafficking of copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods, there both negative and positive consequences of these laws going in force. They stop target websites from using copyrighted content, and this is great, but they would hold social networks like Facebook, Google+ and many other social sites accountable for what users post onto their networks. Additionally, these pending bills would also hold your website or blog accountable for linking to sites that are using copyrighted content. This would make you liable whether knowing another website has copyrighted content or not. For the most part, it is almost impossible to know whether a website is using copyrighted articles, images, etc, or not. Plus, we all link to social sites like Facebook and Twitter, in addition to other websites we link to for clients, resources and information for our website readers. This SOPA / PIPA law would permit the government to block websites that they deem in violation; even if just a single piece of copyrighted material.

This could mean blog comments that are not well moderated; your linking to a site that sell products like Gucci purses, Nike shoes, etc that you did not know were counterfeit goods; web images that you purchased from what you thought was a reliable sources; and so on. If these bills are passed, it could even open doors for a black hat seo to knock your site of the face of the net by linking you to and from violating sites!

Those opposed to PIPA / SOPA state that these bills affect freedom of speech because they could limit what is shared on websites and blogs. For example, a site that posts about government policies or snapshots of images / documents – Wikileaks is a good example of posting government documents – these laws would require Google and other search engines to block that site from their indexes due to what the government considers copyrighted content. This could include quotes from the PIPA / SOPA bills in opinionated blog posts or the Constitution written on websites for students. Could you imagine how the Internet would be if you could not access all of the information that you need to learn, write college papers, share common business information … or have the ability to voice an opinion about them. These are just a few examples of how these laws would affect “Freedom of speech”.

Major websites that have decided to go on strike and protest though this Internet Blackout Day include the English version of Wikipedia. When trying to access this website, we briefly access the intended page and then are redirected to a splash page where users can put in their zip code to email or call their local senators to oppose these bills. Google.com put up a big black box in front of their logo / doodle in protest of PIPA / SOPA.  Mozilla Firefox placed “stop censorship” text in front of their logo and had a link to send visitors to the stop the SOPA & PIPA bills petition page. Cragislist also used blackout pages and is urging visitors to contact their local senators. Reddit social bookmarking site is blacking out their website from 8am to 8pm. WordPress and MANY other locally owned websites are taking their part in opposing SOPA & PIPA.

There are some supporters of these SOPA & PIPA bills.  CNN, NBC, Motion Picture Association of America and many other media companies support PIPA & SOPA because they claim it would help stop their content from being displayed on the internet. This is understandable, though would certainly affect some of your favorite Youtube Channels with videos that have CNN or NBC show playing in the background. They could get jail time and fines even if the video is of their child dancing to the credits of their favorite movie and nothing to do with NBC.

As with anything in life and in this world wide web that we have come to depend on for learning, entertainment and business, there should be precaution for safety, livelihood, personal belongings, etc. We do have those Internet regulating entities like ICANN, InterNIC, PFIR, etc. that help keep things in order in certain areas, though there is no governing body for the Internet. It really is kind of “late in the game” for any “body” / control where there has been free reign. You will see all who agree as your are surfing blogs, Twitter trend followers all the way up to major corporations participating in this Internet Blackout Day.

To learn more about SOPA and PIPA please visit Wikipedia:
PIPA – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROTECT_IP_Act
SOPA – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act

UPDATE: January 30, 2012 congress stated that they are holding off on the decisions of PIPA & SOPA as a result of the Internet Blackout Day. It is not too late to sign the STOP SOPA / PIPA petition for when they are ready to decide on these laws.

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