Have you ever seen a video or image in a forum get taken down because of of a complaint over copyrights? There are probably a few Youtube embeds in this blog that are dead because of that. It’s annoying, but not the end of the world.
What if the copyright complaint didn’t just get the clip taken down? What if it resulted in the entire website being taken down? What if Google and other search engines were legally forbidden from taking you to that website ever again? What if it became illegal for Visa or Mastercard to process any payments to the website? What if putting a video of yourself singing a pop song on the internet became a FELONY, punishible by up to 5 years in jail?
Do you think a social network like Facebook could survive under those conditions? With millions of users, could they afford to risk allowing any of them to post ANYTHING?
That scenario could be imminent, thanks to the lobbying efforts of media companies and organizations like the RIAA and MPAA.
Legislation is being considered in both houses of Congress – SOPA (Stop Internet Piracy) in the House of Representatives and Protect IP in the Senate – that would drastically change the way the Internet works.
Allowing user-based content will become so risky if this becomes law, that the Internet will change into something top-down, more like TV. You’ll get whatever some company decides to give you and like it.
This post on Reddit – one of the popular social networks in danger of being wiped out – has a list of SOPA’s sponsors and a link that makes it easy to send a note to your representative.
And of course using social networks like Facebook and Twitter for political protest would no longer be possible, which I’m sure would suit Congress – now about as unpopular as communism – just fine.
I am embarrassed to say that I kind of let SOPA and Protect IP sneak up on me. I knew something like this was being discussed in congress, but it sounded so ridiculous I didn’t think anything could possibly come of it. Well I was wrong. It’s VERY close to passing right now. Internet businesses like Google, Facebook, Reddit, etc. are pushing hard to stop it, but they kind of got a late start too.
Don’t take this lightly. There was a US House Judicial Committee hearing about this today and they only let ONE person opposed to the bill talk about it. That should give you an idea how much influence the media lobby has.
Here’s an infographic, courtesy of AmericanCensorship.org, showing