You might think that as a creator of intellectual property, I’d be cheering on the SOPA/PIPA bills, but I’m not. Handing unfettered power to government or to any big business to shut off access to another business’s website on the mere suspicion that it’s infringing a copyright is a really bad idea. AmericanCensorship.org shares an infographic that shows why.
What would happen to Etsy or Ebay if a single seller was accused of copyright infringement? As it stands now, there are ways to address this that would remove the specific offender. Under SOPA, payment providers and search engines could be forced to blacklist the entire site upon accusation– not proof, thus destroying the livelihood of thousands of individuals and small businesses.
Today, 18 January 2012, many websites including Wikipedia, BoingBoing, and others are blacking out in protest against SOPA. You can read about the SOPA Strike at their sites, or by going to AmericanCensorship.org. Google is providing concise information and a petition to sign at at its Take Action page. The ProPublica site is offering the SOPA Opera, keeping track of where individual members of Congress stand on SOPA. BlackoutSOPA provides a quick way to add a Stop SOPA label to your Twitter, Google, or Facebook profile.
The Center for Democracy and Technology is hosting a huge list of businesses, associations, and individuals who oppose this. A look at this list is instructive. It’s not a bunch of lunatic fringe groups (well, I guess that depends on your point of view– the Raging Grannies Action League may tip the the scales a bit, but they’re balanced by signers such as the American Library Association), but rather includes people and companies from extreme ends of the creative and political spectrum. I never expected to see the Tea Party Patriots in bed with the ACLU, or The Economist snuggled up with Human Rights Watch, but the breadth of opposition indicates that this is bad law for a vast array of individuals and businesses, not just for a small special interest group.
Here’s are two videos that offer a bit more information.