This sort of advocacy is unusual for this blog, but we believe a free Internet is essential for both cultural innovation and democracy. Sure, the Internet is mostly made of porn and kittens, but we like it as it is. What we don’t want to see is it being unduly controlled by either the government or corporate interests, so we’re participating in American Censorship Day by offering up this information to our readers.
Today, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is headed to the House Judiciary Committee. The purported purpose of this bill, and its counterpart in the Senate, is to stop infringement on copyrighted material, but the scope of the proposed law is way too broad and vague, and if you spin out the implications, downright scary. It has has the power to censor the Internet. It can blacklist or bankrupt sites on whisper-thin grounds, it will impede small businesses and new start-ups, and even punish individuals with jail time for infringing copyright in smalls ways, like, for instance, posting a family video in which copyrighted music is playing in the background.
This bill is likely to pass, and it will happen soon.
It’s hard to summarize all the nasty pointy prongs of this legislation in a few words. The video above does an brief overview–be sure to watch to the end for last second updates. Our smart friends at the EFF, who are helping us with the whole Urban Homestead trademark thing, have written several cogent, lawyerly pieces about this legislation:
Today there is a call for mass action. You may have noticed some of your favorite sites have blacked themselves out in protest.
If you’d like to take action, the EFF has provided a page that helps you shoot a pithy email to your own congresspeople. It only takes a couple of seconds and feels really good: