Warning! The following post contains news of a political nature!
SOPA, the short form of the proposed United States bill “Stop Online Piracy Act” has had a notable amount of opposition from everywhere and anywhere. The bill aims to protect items under intellectual copyright, but goes as far to allow the Department of Justice to file court orders against websites and organisations seen to facilitate any form of Copyright Infringement. As a response to the bill, Wikipedia, Reddit, and blogging sites such as those made by WordPress, ICanHazCheezburger, BoingBoing and a few others are blacking out in a few hours for 24 hours. (12 hours for Reddit)
Copyright has always been a problem since the boom of the internet; especially the distribution of music. YouTube in particular (before and after coming under Google) has had problems with a conglomerates that “Members of the YouTube website are uploading copyrighted content which should not be freely available”. Copyrights are usually legally circumvented on the internet by Fair Use “for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, education or research”.
The Stop Online Piracy Act and a related bill, Protect IP Act (shortened to PIPA), have faced opposition from many tech and internet companies. The Wikimedia Foundation opposes SOPA for good reason, the wording of the acts are very vague and can cover almost anything indirectly related to unauthorised sharing of copyright content. Almost all of its projects, Wikipedia only being one of them, rely on user-edited content on about or indirectly relating to content that is or was protected by copyright and/or trademark. This isn’t the first time they have done this, the Italian language Wikipedia blacked out in response to an Italian act allowing their government to pass a bill that allows a subject to remove any comment about them made by anybody. This doesn’t seem too bad, but this was a small proposition under a much larger one that translates as “The Wiretapping Act”. Wikipedia is full of comments about people and groups although the aim to present them in an unbiased stance. But Wikipedia, full of comments, words, images, and intellectual property would likely die or be forced to move if SOPA goes ahead.
Personally, I heavily oppose SOPA because I feel it is completely unnecessary and only seeks to make a problem much worse. However, I don’t think that a 24-hour blackout of a some websites is impacting enough. If Twitter, WordPress, Wikimedia, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Reddit and AOL decided to stop normal function for an entire week (all of which are American organisations and companies), then that would cause a social reaction big enough that the government would have to answer to.