In case you live under a rock, there's been an up-swell of internet protest today over the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) that is currently making its way through Congress. Wikipedia is blacked out. Google is taking a stand and collecting a giant online petition. Mark Zuckerberg spoke out against the bill. Numerous internet comics have blacked themselves out today. And if you ever venture into Twitter or Facebook...well, SOPA has been impossible to miss.â†µ
I'm certainly no expert on the internet (or law, for that matter), so I highly recommend you read up for yourself about this bill and its potential ramifications. Vox Media -- our parent company -- has taken a stand against SOPA, and I found the explanation of their position to be enlightening.â†µ
Vox Media is officially opposed to SOPA. The bill as drafted is overly broad, vaguely worded, and gives rise to a number of significant concerns:â†µ
Decreased effectiveness and questionable availability of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor for sites that host user-contributed content;â†µ Higher compliance costs for all sites that host user-contributed content;â†µ Potentially overzealous compliance efforts by search engines and payment providers in their attempts to maintain the immunity offered by SOPA section 104.â†µ Serious constitutional issues in regards to due process and seizure of property.â†µ
The basic gist of the argument against SOPA is easy to understand: it's too vague and broad. While the idea is certainly a good one -- I think anyone that works in online content creation can agree that piracy is a big deal -- the specifics provided in this bill do not tackle the problem the right way, and could have serious, negative ramifications if left to pass as is.â†µ
So please, if you haven't already, read up on SOPA. And while you're at it, check out if your Congressional representatives support the bill or not...and if they support it, why not give them a call or Tweet? The more people that get involved, the less chance there is of SOPA becoming a reality.