Have You Heard of SOPA?

imageYou’ve heard of SOPA, right? This is a bill in the U.S. that will make it really easy for the government to shutdown websites that they THINK are illegal, etc. If you aren’t aware, you really should be, as it could potentially touch us all. GoDaddy initially supported SOPA, and the Internet community has lashed out at them, causing GoDaddy to reverse their decision on the issue.

SOPA stands for the Stop Online Piracy Act (PDF). It is one of two bills being considered by Congress today. The other is the Protect-IP Act (PDF). Business Insider does an excellent job explaining SOPA.

“They are well-intentioned,” the article says.” They want to prevent piracy and copyright infringement. But they do so in an overly-aggressive, innovation-endangering way. They allow the entertainment industry to censor sites they feel “engage in, enable or facilitate” infringement.”

Over 120 companies support SOPA (PDF), because of it’s power to block access to websites that appear to encourage online piracy, but and many others are against it.

“The idea behind SOPA sounds reasonable,” says an article on LifeHacker.com, “It came about in order to try to snuff out piracy online, as the entertainment industry is obviously not excited about the many people downloading their product without their permission. The issue is, however, that it doesn’t really matter whether you’re in support of piracy, against it, or just don’t care. SOPA makes it possible for companies to block the domain names of web sites that are simply capable of, or seem to encourage copyright infringement.”

This also means that websites could be cut off from search engines like Google, potentially killing all of a site’s traffic and revenue in a matter of days.

As Lifehacker points out, “If it’s possible to post pirated content on the site, or information that could further online piracy, a claim can be brought against it. This can be something as minor as you posting a copyrighted image to your Facebook page, or piracy-friendly information in the comments of a post such as this one. The vague, sweeping language in this bill is what makes it so troubling.”

SOPA is on the fast track, so if you want to fight it, you need to do so right away. That said, you should get to know the bill so you you can make up your own mind about how you feel about it.

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