Not quite an Internet blackout

Today is SOPA/PIPA protest day. A large scale blackout, including Google and Amazon, was originally discussed, but didnt' happen. The blackout is slightly smaller scale, but Google and Amazon are still taking part with links to information on why these bills are catastrophic. And they are catastrophic. Contact your representatives and tell them to vote against SOPA in the House and PIPA in the Senate. You can contact your Texas Senators here. If you're not from Texas, to find your Senators select your state from the pull down menu here.

Find your Representative by typing your zip code in here.

Seriously frightening analysis of SOPA

I saw what may be the most succinct analysis of the SOPA bill yet. But even so, it's too long for me to quote in its entirety. Chris Heald wrote an opinion piece for Mashable that looks at the pertinent parts of the bill, and it's very scary. He includes a link to the text of the bill so you can read it for yourself. The bill is only 24 pages, so I downloaded and read it. Chris nails it. I recommend reading the whole article, but here's a brief excerpt:

Section 102(a)(2) permits the attorney general to take action against foreign sites (i.e., sites that do not fall under U.S. jurisdiction) if “the owner or operator of such Internet site is facilitating the commission of [copyright infringement].”

We’ll expand on this further down, but the really scary thing here is that there isn’t any qualification that the site be solely for the purpose of theft, only that it facilitate it. Since copyright violation is ridiculously easy, any site with a comment box or picture upload form is potentially infringing. Furthermore, DMCA Safe Harbor provisions are no defense. You, as a site operator, become liable for copyright infringement committed by your users, even if you comply with DMCA takedown requests.

He goes on and shows that, according to SOPA, we are all infringers, and it will be almost impossible to avoid becoming a convicted a felon if someone decides to target an individual as an IP infringer. SOPA and PIPA have to be stopped.

SOPA Protest day

There are a number of sites taking part in today's protest of internet censorship. Here are a few sites and what they're doing:

Reddit will go dark from 7am to 7pm today.

Google is blacking out it's logo and linking to an explanation of what's at stake.

English Wikipedia is going dark and will connect you to the contact info for your representatives if you enter your zip code. is going to blackout, although it hasn't yet and I couldn't find a timeframe.

Boingboing is blacked out, and displays a very clear message of why:

503: Service Unavailable

Boing Boing is offline today, because the US Senate is considering legislation that would certainly kill us forever. The legislation is called the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), and would put us in legal jeopardy if we linked to a site anywhere online that had any links to copyright infringement.

This would unmake the Web, just as proposed in the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). We don't want that world. If you don't want it either, visit for instructions on contacting your Senator. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has more information on this and other issues central to your freedom online.


The Boingers

Listen to the Boingers. These don't do a thing to stop piracy, but do massive damage to our civil liberties, our Constitutional rights and our way of life. There may be other laws that see little use other than to haul in people you can't find anything else on, but none could possibly be as widely applicable is these bills.

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The blackout today worked

SOPA is postponed and both SOPA and PIPA are losing support. But contrary to what some people are saying, this is only a battle, not the war. Lamar Smith is determined to bring PIPA to vote in the Senate next month, and the MPAA, RIAA and other vested interests will not stop until they totally control what can be shared on the internet.

Do not be fooled into believing this is a fight over piracy. It is a fight over old and new business models. If SOPA/PIPA pass, even the websites of the movie studios and record companies would be vulnerable to take down. They don't care because to them the Internet is the enemy that is destroying their business. It is easier to dig in and defend an untenable position that admit times are changing and look for new business models that fit the new environment.

There are business models that work in an online world. Finding them is the only way the movie studios will survive. Even if they succeeded in getting insane anti-piracy legislation passed it would only be a stay of execution for their outdated business model, not a permanent fix for the problem.

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