If you visit any tech news sites, you might have heard about a pair of bills proposed in the United States called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
These bills could give United States law enforcement the authority to go after international sites committing or facilitating intellectual property infringement by obtaining court orders to block domain names. In addition, the bills would give IP holders the right to seek court orders against any payment providers, advertisers or search engines doing business with sites they believe infringe on their intellectual property.
SOPA, the version of the bill purposed in the House, was considered particularly insidious because its language allows government action again sites “committing or facilitating” infringement. Opponents are worried that, because the language is so broad, sites could be blocked or buried in a wave of court orders for nothing more than a link to a site accused of infringement.
Fortunately, protests have been having an effect. The language asking for ISPs to block domain names has been eliminated (for now) and both SOPA and PIPA seem to be losing support in Congress, even among those who originally supported or proposed the legislation. But as the saying goes, it’s not over till it’s over. Today, January the 18th, sites like Wikipedia, Reddit and many others are protesting by “going dark” – eliminating access to their content.
If you’d like to join in the protest, and you have a Flickr account, you can do so by darkening your photos. If you have a Tumblr blog you can black that out as well. Finally, you can sign Google’s online petition. Or if you are a US citizen, take the direct approach and call your local Congressman or Senator and voice your strong opposition to the Bills. According to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, the phone system in Congress has crashed due to the sheer volume of phone calls. So hopefully the politicians are currently feeling the heat, in what is an election year for some.
Source: Ars Technica
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