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News NetworkStop S.O.P.A - Save the Internet!

Stop S.O.P.A - Save the Internet!

By Billy Moffat (17/12/2011)634 words
Tagged: america, australia, crime, current affairs, news, politic, psa, technology

Please ignore the sometimes colloquial tone of this piece. It is neither practical or helpful to approach this topic with the usual journalistic separation. It is crucial the message gets out before it's too late. SOPA must die before it can ever be passed. Please share any information about SOPA that you can - especially before the hearing on December 21st. Do not pay attention to sites that say it has been postponed to 2012 - it has not

SOPA, The Stop Online Piracy Act (also known as the stop online privacy act) is being passed through the American legal system this week (though obviously when it could be signed into law is vague). If passed, it will give the US government as well as large multi-national corporations to easily take down any websites, services, domains or content that it believes to be infringing on copyright.

To put it as bluntly as possible, this will mark the most significant blow yet to freedom on the internet.

Technological experts almost unanimously agree that this bill will come close to destroying the internet and large portions of the tech industry as we know it. On the other side, select rich media empires (that fund almost all US politicians in some form) insist that piracy is theft (it's not) and is sending them bankrupt (I hear some of the executives had to sell their winter beach house). Guess how the politicians are swinging?

Oh, you think this doesn't apply to you because you're not American?

Meercat9.com might be an Australian website, but it is hosted by a US registrar called GoDaddy - the largest US hosting service. This isn't uncommon and hundreds of thousands of websites that are run by non-US residents will need to abide these new regulations. I may have to move the server to another country to avoid illegitimate seisures. However, recently we saw how little the US government cares about jurisdiction over foreign websites when they seized foreign domains and gave them to Chanel

Also, I'm sure you spend the large majority of your time on websites that are American, such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, Tumblr, Reddit and Wikipedia. In fact, SOPA will specifically be targeting social-network sharing sites. Anything where users are allowed to submit content such as pictures, links, videos etc - the owners of the website will be held responsible for any illegal (i.e. pirated or copyright infringing) material that is available.

Wikipedia is talking about plans to do a formal protest because they believe it could be a step to the end of free speech online. Tumblr helped 80,000 of its users learn about talking points for SOPA and helped them contact their congressmen. Microsoft and Google are publicly opposed to the policy. The founder of Reddit.com made a plea urging them that the era of web start-ups will end if this is passed. There have been scares about the language of the bill and how it would affect YouTube videos that under the current laws are perfectly legal.

If you truly think that power to censor anything on the internet is necessary or even remotely sane to be given to media companies, you should read about how UMG repeatedly filed take-down requests for a video they had no rights for, simply because they disliked how the viral campaign from MegaUpload would affect their lobbying, then said they have the right to take down things they don't own on YouTube.

There are hundreds of articles that explain how SOPA works. You can find one from ibtimes.com here if you want a brief summary. You can view the Wikipedia article on SOPA and current news from Google for more information.

Mike Masnick (founder of TechDirt) has been writing article after article about the problems related to SOPA

If you are a US citizen, please contact your local member of government. If you are not in the US (like myself) then help spread awareness of how the US is following China towards an internet of extreme censorship in the name of protection, and how it will inevitably affect the entire world.

And if you still need more information, you can use a search engine such as Google or Bing to get free access to information. However, this may be available for a limited time only before you start seeing this:

Author - Billy Moffat (thumbnail)
Author - Billy Moffat
Owner and sole developer of Meercat9.com, he attends university full time but has a passionate addiction to the internet, particularly programming. Due to the lack of other developers for the site, he is often forced to write about himself in the third person.