SOPA/PIPA – What The?

No doubt you have heard that Wikipedia and other sites are going dark today to protest SOPA and PIPA.  You might have noticed a new banner on the top right corner of this blog as well.  Any idea what this is all about?  If not, read on.

SOPA and PIPA are proposed US legislation that threatens internet freedom.  The gist of it is:  There’s a bill in the US Senate that if passed would put publishing freedom severely at risk, and could shut down entire sites at the whim of media companies.  On January 18, 2012, sites all over the internet will be blacking out to protest and mobilize more people to speak out against this bill coming up in the Senate next week in an attempt to let US lawmakers know how much opposition there is to it.

This legislation if passed would give the US and media companies the right to take down blogs and other sites that they feel are infringing on intellectual property.  That doesn’t sound so bad, so what’s your problem, Mark?  You’re not even American!  And that is the basic problem.  Intellectual Property is not clearly defined within the legislation, and left in its broadest scope, would make a blog like this that highlights and links to other media outlets illegal, and every user on it liable for damages.  YouTube would be operating in many cases illegally.  Create a video of your baby’s first steps with a radio playing in the background, get sued by a media giant for copyright infringement.  It also extends the reach of US companies beyond US borders, allowing the entertainment industry to take action against sites outside of the US.

The legislation also allows the media to manipulate DNS entries to interfere with traffic, redirecting and blocking at will.  Free expression is at risk, and “unpopular” ideas could be stifled, stopping them from gaining popularity.  The potential for abuse is way too high, and as we have seen in the past, ambiguity eventually leads to abuse.

I am all for the reduction, control and elimination of piracy, responsible disclosure, and protecting intellectual property.  These are things that I do for a living, and tenets that are core to my own beliefs.  I do not support loose, thoughtless, careless and arbitrary relinquishment of control to a governmental or private interest body to do the right thing.  There are just too many ways to exploit the amiguous nature and content of this legislation.

I won’t intentionally blackout my blog, I won’t be that easily silenced.  I believe that blogs like my own bring information to our constituents that is important, provides alternative food for thought, and often polar opinion to what the mass media and commercial interests would have us all believe.  Just my 2¢, collect the whole dime…

Here is another fella’s 2¢.