Internet Blackout Today (1/18/12) – Stop SOPA the “Stop Online Piracy Act”

There is currently a bill in front of the US House of Representatives called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). This is a polarizing issue and all are welcome to their opinion, but it is an important concept for our industry and our customers. I encourage you all to contact your local representatives and express your personal opinion.

Stop SOPA

Many large brands in the internet industry are expressing their disapproval by “blacking out” their websites today. Today, you will see that sites like Google, Wikipedia and many others are covering their logos or pages with black bars. Other online communities are shutting down completely for a portion of the day.

To learn Google’s position on this issue, you can visit:

www.google.com/landing/takeaction

Google TakeAction Infographic

Google TakeAction Infographic

Also when visiting www.Wikipedia.com today you will land on a black page encouraging you to take action and allowing visitors to search for their local elected representatives to express their personal opinions.

Wikipedia Blackout

Wikipedia Blackout

The House of Representatives and Congress are looking to take very strong action against online piracy, but the concern is that it may affect free speech while hurting legitimate businesses online. The sponsors of the bill hope to curtail online piracy. Both sides are represented on Wikipedia’s SOPA page but note that Wikipedia is against the bill.

From Wikipedia:

Proponents’ reasoning – “The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who makes the request, the court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten such infringements within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.”

Opponents’ reasoning – “Opponents say that it violates the First Amendment, is Internet censorship, will cripple the Internet, and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech actions. Opponents have initiated a number of protest actions, including petition drives, boycotts of companies that support the legislation, and planned service blackouts by English Wikipedia and major Internet companies scheduled to coincide with the next Congressional hearing on the matter.”

In my personal opinion as a 15 year internet veteran, SOPA has the potential to hurt businesses including ours and our customers. I also believe it could infringe on our right to free speech. Regardless of the side you take, you have your opportunity to voice your opinion by contacting your local representatives.