Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dancing Into Darkness, Part 7

You're probably noticing that there is a distinct lack of Part 7 here.
I'm taking some time to write a post about SOPA and PIPA to raise awareness.

I'm sure that this message won't reach nearly as many people as Google, reddit, Wikipedia, or other similar blackouts, but I felt that I should do my part.

SOPA and PIPA are two bills which are intended to enforce copyright mechanisms, centered around shutting down good counterfeiters and pirates, though they extend to all forms of copyright and IP infringement. The intentions of the bills are pure and good, but as with many movements, both have become warped, to the point where they cause far more damage than good.

The bills operate with a DNS blocking mechanism. Websites which infringe upon anyone's copyright would be shut down. They would not literally go offline, but the effect would be the same. Under the provisions of SOPA/PIPA, no traffic would be able to reach these websites, and search engines would be required by law not to list the infringing sites in their search results. This would create an internet "blacklist".

Why should you care?

First, censorship. Not only does it infringe upon the constitutional right for freedom of speech (I am only referring the US citizens here, as the bills only have legal jurisdiction within the USA) but censorship is a form of oppression as well. When you allow the government to start censoring any form of your speech, be it the Internet or something else entirely, that only creates precedent for your rights to be infringed upon further.

Second, the bills are too broad. Both have provisions not only for mass-offender sites, but also sites which have the slightest offense. While this may appear to be a good form of regulation to dissuade people from posting copyrighted content upon their sites, it is absolutely terrible for sites which are driven largely by user-generated content. These sites have absolutely too much content each day for all content to be monitored for copyright infringement. Doubtless, some will slip by, and suddenly, your favorite site is blacklisted. Examples of sites which would be hurt by this provision are Youtube and reddit. For those out there who cry that the government would never shut down so large a site - under the bills, they would be required to if the sites are found offending. Corporates would doubtless report such sites in order to drive more users to their own sites to raise more revenue and create an essential monopoly.

But I digress from the main point.

SOPA and PIPA are bills that are far too broad to be reasonable. Their intentions are good, but they attempt to remove an infection by pumping the host full of acid, instead of giving them a well-placed antibiotic.

Of course, one blog post is certainly not enough to cover the controversy surrounding SOPA and PIPA. If you'd like to learn more, see the following links:

Information on H.R.3261 Stop Online Piracy Act
Information on S.968 Protect IP
Even the White House has come out against major provisions present in SOPA and PIPA.
List of sites protesting SOPA/PIPA

In addition, an agreement known as ACTA exists in the global community. It has provisions similar to those of SOPA and PIPA, and was passed largely in secret. To learn more about ACTA, click here. To find out how you can take action against ACTA, click here.

How can you take action against SOPA/PIPA?
Contact a representative. Call them. Email them. Perm, do both.
Tell everyone you know to raise awareness. The reason many bills such as SOPA/PIPA and agreements like ACTA ever pass is due to a lack of awareness. But please, for the love of all that is sacred, do not send out chain mail. I don't want to see an Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: THEIR SHUTTIG DOWN THE INTERNET in my inbox. You can post on Facebook, Google Plus, Live Messenger, and any number of social networking sites.

Thank you.
This blog will return to its normal content shortly.

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