I think my mother considers me to be something of a computer expert. News flash: I’m not. At all. I know just enough about computers to know when it’s time to call in someone who really knows about them so I don’t break something important.
That’s what I wish Congress had done before they decided to take on Internet piracy. Two bills — SOPA in the House of Representatives and Protect IP Act or PIPA in the Senate — claim to be about protecting intellectual property, but they were written with the help of Hollywood lobbyists who just did not understand how the Internet works. They did not get enough input from the technical experts who might have helped create laws that worked, and are fair.
If these bills make it through Congress, the Internet will end up being severely disabled. Legitimate websites will go out of business and many businesses of the future will be stillborn. And the pirates will go right on pirating.
If you haven’t heard much about these bills it’s understandable. They have barely been mentioned by the mainstream media. Luckily, the Internet has a bit of sway as well. The word is starting to get out. Today, some high profile websites, including Reddit and Wikipedia are blacking out their websites to protest the proposed legislation and get people to call congress. Google has posted an anti-censorship message and plea to contact congress. That ought to carry some punch.
I don’t think I can actually do a “blackout” on a WordPress.com blog, but I’d like to pitch in. These bills need to be stopped.
The legislation is complicated, but this article does a pretty good job boiling it down and explaining how it could hurt the Internet. I found it to be a pretty easy read:
Once you’ve read that, if you haven’t yet contacted your congressman or senator, I would urge you to do so.
Also check out Google’s petition.
Edit: It looks like RateYourMusic.com, my favorite album rating site, is also having a blackout today to protest SOPA/PIPA. Good for them. Site owner Hosseign Sharifi gives a great explanation of how his perfectly legitimate, non-pirating website could be shut down by this legislation. Click that link and read it for yourself.