January 18th, 2012

sophie, skype, weemee

SOPA/PIPA Blackout

[this is a public post]

Today, I've blacked out my journal over at Dreamwidth for 24 hours in order to raise awareness of SOPA/PIPA, alongside many other websites, including Wikipedia.

Please note: SOPA is still a threat, despite the news reports recently that it was shelved indefinitely. (Lamar Smith plans to resume SOPA's markup in February.)

I'm only doing this on DW, for two reasons:

a) DW is now my primary home. Most people are watching me there, as far as I know, and keeping LJ up allows me to make posts like this one (which I'll repost to DW after the blackout);
b) LJ doesn't have any way to specify *why* a journal was 'deleted'. This would mean that people might worry about me.

Why am I doing this, even though I'm located in the UK and the bill is a US one? Because most of the sites I use on the Internet are based in the US.

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(TL;DR: A "site dedicated to theft of US property" is one located in the US and where the owner(s) have taken 'deliberate actions' to avoid confirming 'a high probability' of copyright infringement. The 'deliberate actions' are left undefined, as is what 'a high probability' means, and this is what makes the bill so dangerous.)

So what happens to a 'site dedicated to theft of US property'? Namely, a complete cutoff from anything that could provide financial support to that site - payment merchants such as PayPal or 2Checkout would be forced to deny payments to the site from its members/subscribers, and advertising networks would be forced to deny the site any ads.

Combine the unspecific nature of the bill with the financial cutoff penalty, and you have a perfect recipe for governmental censorship. And no, of course the government wouldn't use it to shut down YouTube, but they wouldn't need to. Services like YouTube simply cannot afford to fall foul of a law like this, and if the bill passed, it would give the government a *reason* to shut YouTube down. That's all they need, because with the threat of that hanging in the air, they could ask YouTube to do damn well anything and they'd have to comply. Blackmail, in other words.

I'll probably write more on this topic later, but for now, I hope I've given a good explanation of why this would be bad for the Internet as a whole, and why I've chosen to black out my journal for the day.

[edit 9:49pm GMT: For people in the UK, here's a petition on direct.gov calling on the UK government to condemn SOPA and PIPA: https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/26143 ]