Via Bryan, via Susie Madrak, please note that, as MSNBC’s technology blog reminds us, Congress is verging on action on the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” which might be better named the “criminalize free speech on the Internet act.” Several large companies that field public institutions on the ‘net are contemplating a coordinated shutdown in protest of SOPA, as a reminder to the crazies in Congress these days (yes, Dems as well as GOPers) who irrationally think this draconian law is a good idea, that most of us have no intention of tolerating it. Companies involved in the SOPA protest include (but are not limited to)…
AOL, eBay, Etsy, Facebook, Foursquare, Google, IAC, Linkedin, Mozilla, OpenDNS, PayPal, Twitter, Yahoo!, Zynga.
At present, the likeliest date seems to be Jan. 23rd. Expect to be reminded of what life was like before the Internet and all these services on the Web… and what it could be like again if a few overwhelmingly powerful content providers succeed in imposing the draconian legal restrictions… all without due process of course; that’s the latest thing, after all… on you through your internet service provider. And afterwards, FIGHT LIKE BLOODY HELL to prevent this from happening.
ADDENDUM: Perhaps an example would help you to understand what is at stake. This example is not original with me, but I can’t remember where I read it; if you know, please inform us all:
- Suppose, with SOPA in effect, you unthinkingly post to YouTube a short clip from a popular TV show made within the past decade. Never mind whether the clip is short enough to meet fair-use restrictions; media companies probably won’t worry a lot about what your legal rights are. But who is liable, and what action can be taken? Under SOPA, you, your internet service provider, and Google (which fields YouTube) are all liable. Can the owners of the clip take legal action against you? They won’t have to: you are presumptively guilty; the clip will be pulled down. Your ISP may decide you’re not worth the trouble and discontinue your service. Google may find itself forced to discontinue YouTube altogether for lack of profitability.
- Now suppose a slightly different scenario: you personally videotape your young daughter jumping around doing cute things on the playground near your home, and post the video on YouTube. Clearly visible on your daughter’s feet is the Nike “swoosh” logo… it’s on the shoes she is wearing. What then? You can still be required by Nike to take down the video, etc., with other consequences as above.
- And so on. I’ve read that even LINKS from your blog to content on another site that is not copyright compliant can result in action against you.
Crazy? Yes. The new corporate American reality, if SOPA passes? Probably.