Tomorrow (18 January 2012) the web will be different. Tomorrow some of the web will be blacked out. Tomorrow the web you use will be changed in protest against something that could keep it that way forever.
The Stop On-line Piracy Act (SOPA) is a proposed bill in the USA which could have a far reaching effect on the way we use the World wide web – even here in the UK. SOPA has been proposed to “combat the online piracy of music, films and video etc.” on the world wide web. Whilst this sounds fair it has caused an uproar on legitimate websites such as Twitter, Wikipedia and Google. This is because…
- SOPA proposes to give powers to the US Department of Justice to shut down any website on suspicion of copyright infringement
- The decision will be largely based upon the finger pointing of the copyright holders, media companies and multi-national corporations
- Even websites hosted outside the US will be attacked because the bill will allow the DoJ to force Google, Paypal et al to blacklist the “offending” website
- The bill operates on a guilty until proven innocent basis.
- The sites in question would have 5 days to prove they are innocent during which time the site will be shut anyway.
So imagine all those cover versions and remixes of songs, mash-ups, lego stop-motion videos and parodies of music, video and stories. SOPA would stop them all. Youtube would become a mere fraction of what it is today. Wikipedia could become far far less useful as all the fair use images disappear.
This is why tomorrow my websites will be blacked out. This is why Wikipedia, Google, Twitter and WordPress (among others) are up in arms and some of them will be closed for business tomorrow. There some great information on this bill here and here. Don’t think it doesn’t affect you because you are not in the US. This bill cannot proceed. It’s unnecessary (there are alreay mechanisms in place for copyright holder to bring alleged infringers to bear), it is dangerous and it is all about corporate greed not the protection of artists and writers (as it claims).