SOPA blackout

January 18, 2012

in Canada, Geek stuff, Internet matters, Law, Politics, Writing

Many websites in the United States, Canada, and around the world are joining together to protest SOPA – the Stop Online Piracy Act.

The bill, which could become law in the United States, would have unfortunate consequences for the internet as a whole. I agree with Michael Geist that Canadians should be concerned.

I remember the exciting beginning of the internet, where people thought it was a medium that effectively could not be censored and which would allow people to freely and honestly share information. Some of the sites that still do that most successfully – sites like Wikipedia – are threatened by laws that make them excessively liable for copyright violations and by imposing other restrictions.

As Wikipedia puts it:

The United States Congress is currently considering striking out major rights of free speech and other laws which make Wikipedia possible, forcing us to censor our editor discussions and the information we show you for the benefit of lobbyists. If passed, it would destroy the freedom of individuals to write without censorship, on every website we have, in any language, anywhere in the world.

Here’s hoping this show of opposition from some of the most important sites on the web will help kill this legislation.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Anon January 18, 2012 at 9:29 am

Why didn’t you join the blackout?

Alex January 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Yes, why did you not join?

Milan January 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Three reasons:

1) For a low-traffic site like mine, writing about the blackout is likely to do more to inform people than participating would. When big sites do it, they get secondary media attention.

2) It is a U.S. law, so it seems more appropriate to express my concern about it in writing than to participate in the direct action against it.

3) It is technically difficult to bring a site offline in a way that doesn’t introduce security vulnerabilities or create problems with Google indexing.

Milan January 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm

(2) might not be a very good reason. After all, this site is physically hosted in the U.S. by an American company.

That is partly because current U.S. law shows more respect for freedom of speech and freedom of the press than current Canadian law.

. January 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm

If you want to join the protest by blacking out your WordPress site or applying a ribbon, there is now a variety of blackout plugins in the WordPress.org plugins directory. While joining the protest in this manner is laudable, please don’t forget to also make those phone calls to U.S. Senators — they’re the ones with the voting power.

. January 19, 2012 at 7:53 am
oleh January 22, 2012 at 11:49 am

Reason number one was effective in my case, as it informed me about the legislation in a way ùi had not followed in the media.

Matt January 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Are you hosted by godaddy or an affiliate? If so, are you aware of the movement about to move DNS/web hosting from their service?

Milan January 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm

This site is hosted with DreamHost, and I have been happy with them.

Milan January 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm
. January 25, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Recent revelations that the content industries are demanding that Canada implement SOPA-style provisions into its copyright law have raised concerns the law could be used to target legitimate sites. Industry lawyers say there is no reason for worry, yet an analysis of the proposed law set against the claims made by Viacom against Youtube show that there is a very real possibility that new law could be used to target the Internet’s most popular video site.

That would create a huge chill in the investment and technology community in Canada. Online video sites, cloud computing sites, and other online services may look at the Bill C-11 and fear that even a lawsuit could create massive costs, scare away investors, and stifle new innovation. Indeed, a recent study by Booz & Company found this to be a very real problem, with a large majority of the angel investors and venture capitalists saying they will not put their money in digital content intermediaries if governments pass tough new rules allowing websites to be sued or fined for infringing digital content posted by users. The U.S. has dropped for SOPA, but now incredibly Canada may consider the very provisions that causes investors to become skittish.

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