We add our ripple to the growing sea of unrest.
It's likely you don't need us to run down all the gruesome details of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills at this point, both have received unprecedented attention from the Internet community at large. Yet we're going to anyway in convenient bullet point form, because this is more important than anything we've ever discussed here. It's not exaggeration to say that the future of the Internet is at stake here, as the passage of either bill will have a devastating impact on the Internet as you know it today. Among other things, these bills will:
- Give the power of censorship to the US Government (and copyright owners) by allowing it to impose DNS blocking, search engine takedowns, and more on any site merely accused or suspected of piracy.
- Give the US Attorney General the ability (with a court order) to seize any website without due process or a chance for the owner to defend himself, even if that site has merely been accused of infringing on copyright.
- Order ISPs, ad companies and payment processors to block any accused websites (good luck with that, PayPal).
- Allow the imposing of fines or jail time on web users for posting derivatives of copyright works (ex: machinima)
- Make websites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Wikipedia liable for user contributions (in effect killing such contributions).
- Stifle innovation that would've otherwise come from companies suddenly too paralyzed with fear of takedown to take risks.
- Promote "self-censorship" of sites simply so they avoid being targeted for takedown, stifling free speech as we know it.
We here at VGGEN have already transferred our domains away from GoDaddy, a "former" supporter of SOPA and the only major Internet-based company to ever officially support the bill (GoDaddy eventually issued a weak reversal after thousands of other domain owners also moved their domains). But we feel that action alone is not enough. Therefore, we plan to show solidarity with Reddit, Destructoid and others across the Good Ol' WWW by also participating in SOPA Blackout Day on January 18th. This date is significant, because it also coincides with a House oversight hearing on the measures led by California Republican Darrell Issa, and we can't think of a better time to join in on the protest.
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