I’ve had several discussions very recently about the devastating Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) working their way through Washington. I need to mention that these chats have mostly scared me! So many people still don’t know what it’s all about.
There’s a few reasons for this:
and the most important reason,
- Many of my friends aren’t as nerdy as I am about the Internet
Conversations about SOPA go back to the end of October (and 2008 with PIPA) so it’s very familiar to me. So getting back to the curse of knowledge, here is what SOPA means in plain English and why you need to care:
In the words of Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
In terms of SOPA, major content producers and media companies are refusing to adapt to the way the Internet and sharing has evolved and affected their businesses.
From a letter written by 83 of the Internet’s ‘Founding Fathers:’
[quote style=”boxed”]If enacted, either of these bills will create an environment of tremendous fear and uncertainty for technological innovation, and seriously harm the credibility of the United States in its role as a steward of key Internet infrastructure. Regardless of recent amendments to SOPA, both bills will risk fragmenting the Internet’s global domain name system (DNS) and have other capricious technical consequences. In exchange for this, such legislation would engender censorship that will simultaneously be circumvented by deliberate infringers while hampering innocent parties’ right and ability to communicate and express themselves online.
All censorship schemes impact speech beyond the category they were intended to restrict, but these bills are particularly egregious in that regard because they cause entire domains to vanish from the Web, not just infringing pages or files. Worse, an incredible range of useful, law-abiding sites can be blacklisted under these proposals. In fact, it seems that this has already begun to happen under the nascent DHS/ICE seizures program.[/quote]
The effects of this bill are still fairly abstract right now (while the Internet still exists) but when YouTube is suddenly unavailable in the United States, you’ll now know why.
I created a Storify post to help illustrate the magnitude of what’s going on.
And here’s a list of additional links to check out: