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Internet Blackout to Protest SOPA/PIPA

18 Jan
Internet Blackout to Protest SOPA/PIPA

Now I don’t know about you, but, the western world means that all is right with the world.  The cows are grazing, the horses are frolicking, and the garden in bountiful.   But outside this “greener pastures factor” lies the cyberworld.  This is a world that is touched by many, and read by almost everyone.  Information is well sought after, good reads just waiting to be read, worldly news is consumed, and well some true knee-jerkers are soaked up.  And for some, the ends to the means of the health (cash flow) of their business.  All hail the all mighty internet!

Today however, marks a major turning point for this new technological world we live in. (Ok, it’s not new, but it’s far from the horse and buggy era!)  Information is rampant, and always just a click away, but todays view was just a bit different.  There was a call to blackout in protest of the two proposed copyright bills SOPA/PIPA.  And, there was a large response seen on the internet today.  Some of the major companies (Wikipedia, Google, WordPress, Tucows, Reddit, Boing Boing, Mozilla.org, Flikr, and Craigslist ~ just to name a few) participated in the protest. Click here for the comfirmed list.

Now if you haven’t been keeping up with the politics of it, that’s ok.  This internet blackout is designed to raise awareness in everyone, and get the word out that it’s not the best law the “government” could come up with.  It’s vague, to broad, emcompasses to much, and treads on first amendment rights (Freedom of Speech).

Now I’m for copyright laws just as much as the next person, and they are to be respected.  After all, why would you honestly want to take the rights of someone elses hard work and call it your own.  It’s… well… just wrong!  But that’s why there’s copyright laws, to make us all respect the rights of others.  There are those of us, that go to great lengths to ensure proper credit is given to those that actually did the work.  And then there are those…. that think it’s more of a lost and found, or a free-for-all.

If this bill passes, it could largely effect the internet, and the way we use it today.  In researching, it appears that every website that accepts a link or submitted content would be at risk of being shut down.  A site can be shut down for one infringing link, even if you didn’t post it.  (It could be a comment posted inappropriately.)  Users can only defend themselves once their site is shut down.  Not the page/post in question ~ the entire site.. shut down.  There is five days in which action is taken.  During that five day period, sites accused of infringing will be shut down by domain name, not IP address.  (Blocking sites by name would be causing a website death sentence.)  This type of things happen in places we don’t refer to as the “Land of the Free”.  And there’s a special provision for the ordinary web user, that says they can be jailed for five years for posting copyright work.(Isn’t that special? :/)

Now, having said all that, the part of the bill that says the site will be shut down by domain name, was dropped earlier this week after the White House publicly criticized it for creating a new cyber-security risk and interupting the underlying architecture of the internet.  (Since any pirate, or “rogue website” could easily just open the doors again under a new domain name.)

It’s stated by supporters of the SOPA bill, that it only targets foreign sites, as defined as top level domains (TLD) not run by a U.S. registry (.com  – .net – .org)  However it would seem that domestic sites will be targeted, as the entire set-up, compliance costs and legal liability is targeted.  The wording is vague but appears that U.S. websites will have to police their sites for links to any of the “rogue sites” and any sites linking to sites with infringing material can have money to the site cut off.

This could have a damaging effect on entrepreneurial web-based businesses that create business models based on sharing and socializing.  Such businesses as Google, Wikipedia, and Amazon would be effected too.  If you’re a top tier business, with lots of legalese at your disposal for such catastrophes as this I suppose it would not be as bad as it sounds.  But for a Mom and Pop business, this threat IS a BIG DEAL!  The cost of liability compliance costs and the legal risks could force the entire business to shut down.

Everyone has expressed their concerns about these two purposes bills, including the Department of Homeland Security, and the effect it will have on the DNS upgrade that is coming in the near future.  Currently the DMCA is handling copyright concerns appropriately, yet still allowing sites to operate under the “safe harbor” rule as long as the claim of infringment is responded to and addressed.

I’ll leave you with a few links to do your own research.

American Censorship.org
Electronic Frontier Foundation
INC.com
Wired.Co.Uk
Techdirt.com
Electronic Frontier Foundation
CBS News

And if you want to be a part of the protest and sign the petition, HERE is the link for that too.

Don’t just take my word for it.  Get the information, and form your own opinion.

Legal Mumbo Jumbo:
The views and opinions of this article expressed here, are my own.  These views and opinions are not expressed, nor implied to be the views and opinions of Lowery Leather & Crafts, Inc.

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