Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fade to Black .... Update Below: TV Tropes Protest and IN Senator Contacts...Update II: It's Going, Going, Galt!

The theme today is darkness. Google has blacked out their logo, though their site still operates. Wikipedia has made good on their promise to black out their site. When I went there this morning, I saw the page I was on for a scant moment before it vanished and this screen showed up.

I sorely underestimated the problems this bill would cause until I saw Google and Wikipedia both upset over it. But they're right. Just because I'm a little late to the party doesn't mean that they're not right.

From CNN:

The bills [SOPA and PIPA] are intended to strengthen protections against copyright infringement and intellectual property theft, but Internet advocates say they would stifle expression the World Wide Web. In essence, the legislation has pitted content providers -- like the music and film industries -- against Silicon Valley.

"It's not a battle of left versus right," said progressive activist Adam Green, whose organization Progressive Change Campaign Committee on Tuesday hosted a press conference with opponents of the bills. "Frankly, it's a battle of old versus new."

...The popular link-sharing site Reddit got the ball rolling for today's 24-hour Internet blackout. In addition to Reddit and Wikipedia, other sites participating include BoingBoing, Mozilla, WordPress, TwitPic, and the ICanHasCheezBurger network. Search giant Google is showing its solidarity with a protest doodle and message: "Tell Congress: Please don't censor the web," but the site planned no complete blackout...

...Internet companies and their investors would readily say that they're holding the "blackout" to protect their corporate interests -- and the entire burgeoning Internet-based economy.
"The success of Reddit... is one of the smaller examples of the success that has happened in our industry -- and will continue to unless bills like SOPA or PIPA become law," Ohanian said Tuesday.

Under the rules SOPA or PIPA would impose, Ohanian and others argue, start ups wouldn't be able to handle the costs that come with defending their sites against possible violations. Such sites would not be able to pay the large teams of lawyers that established sites like Google or Facebook can afford.

The legislation in question targets foreign companies whose primary purpose is to sell stolen or counterfeit goods -- but opponents say domestic companies could still be held liable for linking to their content. While sites like Reddit wouldn't have a legal duty to monitor their sites all the time, "you might have your pants sued off of you" if you don't, said Jayme White, staff director for the Senate Finance Subcommittee on international trade.
So if by mistake I link to a foreign website that deal in counterfeit goods, I get taken to task by the US Attorney General.
And what about American sites that use copyright content, such as YouTube. Arguably, YouTube allows for people to steal whatever songs they want, but on the other hand, I own six CDs that I would never have bought if I hadn't heard the songs first on YouTube.

I agree that piracy should be stopped, but this bill is a net cast too wide to do any good - it almost promises to do more harm than good.

The Senate is scheduled to have a vote on the bill on January 24th.


Updated 12:15 p.m. EST

For those of you who live in Indiana, you can contact Senator Lugar at his D.C. office by phone: (202) 224 - 4814. I tried calling a moment ago, but I got sent to a message because Lugar is getting swamped with calls.

To contact Senator Dan Coats at his D.C. office, the number is (202) 224-5623.

TV Tropes, my favorite site for wasting time, is also protesting SOPA today.

I really have this desire to keep recording this sort of stuff; who is protesting on their sites against SOPA.

Kudos to Google, Wikipedia, and all the other sites that are calling attention to this attack on freedom.


Update 2: The other sites worth seeing.

First, Google, for posterity.

I like what they've done with their logo. I contemplated something similar, but it's kind of hard to pull off when your original background for your banner is black.

Here we have LiveJournal's protests.

And finally ... I had some doubts about posting this. I had heard WordPress was protesting, but WordPress also killed an anti-Islam blog I really enjoyed. I did eventually go over to see what they were doing. It's kind of touching in a squishy way. If someone complains about you, we'll take your blog down, but we don't want to the government taking it down. (For the record, the blog they took down was Bare Naked Islam.)

Per Gateway Pundit and The Guardian, we have this list of the sponsors of SOPA dealing in .... copyright violations!! No joke! This bill that will shut websites down for not policing every single site they link too was written by a bunch of copyright infringers!!

I never did manage to get through to Lugar, it was either a machine, or when I did get through I was on a very wonky version of hold. I did get through to Coats and it may have been a wasted phone call, but I used to trust Mike Pence to do the right thing, too, and he tried to keep the government running when I wanted it shut down, so you can't be too careful.

Here is a giant collection of banners and logos and sites that did something to protest SOPA. Very cool.

So today, in protest of SOPA, the entire Internet went on complete of partial strike, or stood in solidarity with the strikers. The Internet went Galt, and I hear that Congress is getting a backlash now. Let's take a look...Ooh, from the New York Times, no less!

Phone calls and e-mails poured in to Congressional offices against the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect I.P. Act in the Senate. One by one, prominent backers of the bills dropped off. ...

Then trickle turned to flood — adding Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois and Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Representatives Lee Terry of Nebraska and Ben Quayle of Arizona. At least 10 senators and nearly twice that many House members announced their opposition.

The NYT then goes on to talk about how Hollywood is so menaced by the new force of the Internet, accusing the Internet of lying and all that other crap. Uh-huh. This, I think, is the other reason Congress wanted this bill. Without freedom to disseminate information, which the Internet gives us, how will we ever find the truth? As I said above, I own 6 CDs I would never have bought if someone hadn't posted copyrighted content to YouTube so I could listen and go, 'hey, I like that!'

The fight isn't quite over yet, but we've all made a good effort today. Kudos to everyone.

Going, going, Galt!!

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