By Nadin Abbott
“SOPA and PIPA go too far, allowing the government to take down any website for even a single unintentional post with copyrighted material. Even a comment posted by a reader could be enough to get a site shut down.” –ECM Editor Miriam Raftery
January 18, 2012 (San Diego's East County)--On Wednesday Wikipedia and many other major sites will go dark to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA,). Other sites such as Google will remain on line, but post protest messages opposing the bills on their homepages.
Both acts are favored by the movie and music industries, which have heavily lobbied the House and the Senate respectively. The acts are meant to protect copyright material from web piracy. The problem is that both acts have the potential of creating far more problems than they will solve and changing the nature of the worldwide web as we know it.
“My hope is that when Wikipedia shuts down on January 18, people will understand that we’re doing it for our readers,” Sue Gardner, founder of the Wikimedia foundation posted. “We support everyone’s right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, even if they can’t pay for it. We believe in a free and open Internet where information can be shared without impediment. We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA and PIPA, and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States, don’t advance the interests of the general public. You can read a very good list of reasons to oppose SOPA and PIPA here, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.” http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/English_Wikipedia_anti-SOPA_blackout
According to Miriam Raftery, Editor of the East County Magazine, “SOPA and PIPA go too far, allowing the government to take down any website for even a single unintentional post with copyrighted material. Even a comment posted by a reader could be enough to get a site shut down. If an editor asks and gets permission to reprint a photo off another site, and the second site owner fails to mention that the copyright was owned by someone else, both sites could be forced off-line.”
She added, “I support copyright protections and once filed a class action lawsuit to support rights of freelance journalists. But these proposed laws could put many reputable sites out of business if enforced. Copyright laws already on the books provide remedies for infringement incidents. A shut-down should only be allowed when there is widespread, intentional and repeated infringement, as with sites set up for the primary purpose of distributing pirated videos.”
The act could affect the average consumer in significant ways, and could potentially take Wikipedia (one of the sites leading this electronic strike), as well as You Tube or Facebook out of business, changing significantly the way we use the web. This is why many in the community oppose it. It is also now opposed in the Halls of Congress.
According to the Hill Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Darrell Issa (R-San Diego) “While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House. Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.” http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/204167-sopa-shelved-until-consensus-is-found
Congressman Issa added the “focus of protecting the Internet” now needs to be on the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D- NV) has “announced his intention to try to move similar legislation in less than two weeks.” On Thursday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT.), the sponsor of the Senate bill, Protect IP Act (PIPA), had said he was open to changes about the site-blocking provision — now, perhaps even more changes (including shelving PIPA too?) may follow.
How will this affect San Diegans? Tomorrow at the very least you will not be able to use the Wikipedia, Reddit, and other major sites.
If you have a website and wish to join the blackout and have a Wordpress account, you can download a plugin here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/sopa-blackout-plugin/
Wordpress is also going dark, to protest both SOPA and PIPA, and their effect on the web. For a list of sites going dark or otherwise participating go here:
You can also sign a petition here: http://americancensorship.org/