Google knows it. Viacom knows it. The Chamber of Commerce knows it. Internet democracy groups know it. BoingBoing knows it. But, the Internet hasn’t been told yet — we’re going to get blown away by the end of the year. The worst bill in Internet history is about to become law. Law is very real here in the United States and legal language is often different than stated intentions — this law would give government and corporations the power to block sites like BoingBoing over infringing links on at least one webpage posted by their users. Believe the EFF, Public Knowledge, Google when they say this bill is about much more than copyright, it’s about the Internet and free speech everywhere.
The MPAA, RIAA, Hollywood knows that they have been flying in CEOs of as many companies as possible, recruiting people to get petition signups at malls in California, and here’s the big point– they know they have gotten their message through to Congress — the worst bill in Internet history, the one where government and their corporations get unbelievable power to take down sites, threaten payment processors into stopping payment to sites on a blacklist, and throw people in jail for posting ordinary content is about to pass before the end of this year. The only thing that is going to stop Hollywood from owning the Internet and everything we do, is if there is a big surprise Internet backlash starting right now.
PROTECT IP (S. 968)/SOPA (HR. 3261) creates the first system for Internet censorship – this bill has sweeping provisions that give the government and corporations leeway and legal cover for taking down sites “by accident,” mistakenly, or for NOT doing “enough” to protect the interests of Hollywood. These bills that are moving very quickly through Congress and can pass before Christmas aim to give the US government and corporations the ability to block sites over infringing links posted by their users and give ISPs the release to take any means to block peoples’ sites, including slowing down your connection. That’s right, some say this bill is a workaround to net neutrality and is bigger than net neutrality.
This is the worst piece of Internet legislation in history – the lawmakers who have been sponsoring (Leahy, Lamar Smith, Conyers) this bill need to be shamed by the Internet community for wasting taxpayer dollars on a bill that would break the very fabric of the Internet, create an Internet blacklist, kill jobs and great startup companies, huge blogs, and social networks.
Everyone, the entire Internet community needs to stand together if we don’t want to see this bill actually become law. Internet and democracy groups are planning an Internet-wide day of protest called American Censorship Day on Wednesday, November 16th for the day Congress holds a hearing on these bills to create the first American Internet censorship system. Every single person with a website can join and needs to.
Boing Boing, Grooveshark, Free Software Foundation, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, Demand Progress, Open Congress/PPF, TechDirt, Fight for the Future and dozens of other sites have created this day to ask you to join them to stop S. 978 and HR 3261, as hard as you can. Write them, protest, call them, protest, support your favorite sites, protest, sign a letter, block out your site, protest.
Many public intellectuals who are often the ones to help win the public interest over and over are about to come out to lead the charge to stop PROTECT IP/ SOPA – they have to when they learn that the House and Senate will be working to pass this bill before the Christmas. From those doing work on the hill, it’s very clear we have been stacked comparatively lightly. The House bill has 40 co-sponsors and major industry support. The only thing that will change the dynamic now is if Congress gets a knock on their door by CEO”s of small and large tech companies, blogs, and news sites and if Internet users start piling on, one by one, and protest.
Tech companies, blogs, news sites are already in a death-do-die battle cry — listen to them — it’s a few days before the hearing on this bill. But, we need more tech companies, blogs, new sites before the hearing on this bill. Help get them.
I’ve been trying to think about whether or not the world is going to end if this bill passes like it’s supposed to — and the answer is, “kind of yes”. When small sites, and it’s the small sites that get turned off in the night and no one for the most part notices, say my friend’s political blog or news site gets blocked by the US government and she has no way to get it back up even though everything she did was legal according to current law, and no one can help her except she can choose to file suit to defend herself, I feel like I die inside a little. Living in a country where you are being shut out and left powerless to really defend yourself is like living in another country, the ones you hear about. Life starts to feel shot when that happens, especially to our friends or our favorites sites.
Every site who has user-generated content, posts links or videos to anything copyrighted in it could face new legal threats.
If a copyrights holder disliked links you have on your site, they could simply file a complaint with a payment processor (Visa, PayPal), who would then have 5 days to respond to their request or risk legal ramifications. If bills like this are allowed to pass, we’ll be spending another $47 million dollars every year to help corporations fill out and enforce Internet blacklists.
Sites that would be legal under the DMCA and its safe harbor provisions would now risk losing everything for allowing user generated content. It also has added in the streaming felony bill that would make it so ordinary Internet users are at risk of going to jail for 5 years for post any copyrighted work that would cost $2,500 to license. And because copyright is so broad, that means videos with copyrighted music in the background, kids in a school play, people singing karaoke could all be a risk.
Because the law affects almost every Internet user and the sites they use every day and have come to love, and because granting sweeping blacklisting powers is just sickening to almost everyone, we need your help — if you can encourage your favorite site to join the protest, and help drive the maximum number of people to contact Congress on November 16th (until the bill dies), please help.
These bills represent a major blow to openness and freedom on the Internet, free speech rights, and the fabric of the Internet itself. If SOPA is allowed to pass, the Internet and free speech will never be the same again.