SOPA and PIPA: Taking Action
Proposed US laws could make it an offence to merely link to a website with unlicenced copyright material, with a gaol sentence resulting for those convicted of distributing unlicenced copyright material.
Today, many of the world’s biggest websites will be taking action to protest the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) bills which are being debated in the US congress.
Major websites taking action include Flickr, Google, TwitPic and WordPress. Wikipedia has commenced a 24-hour shutdown.
SOPA and PIPA are designed to prevent online piracy and copyright breaches by taking a heavy-handed approach to enforcement. This could have the effect of censoring many US websites.
Even for those of us in Australia, SOPA and PIPA could have the effect of reducing traffic from the USA and even lead to gaol terms for Australians.
In essence, the laws mean that:
- Websites that host any material that is copyright can be taken down (rather than having the offending content removed)
- Website owners who host unlicenced copyright content could face gaol sentences.
- It would be an offence to link to a website with unlicenced copyright material.
- Internet service providers will be required to take action against website owners who breach copyright.
- American citizens would be blocked from accessing sites that are alleged or guilty of hosting copyright material.
- Australian (and other citizens) who have affected sites could have them blocked to US-citizens, taken down (if hosted in the United States) or even face gaol terms if they travel to the US and are found to be guilty.
The websites who are protesting SOPA and PIPA believe that internet piracy and intellectual property theft are serious and legitimate issues that need to be tackled. I also support this position.
Whilst I am not directly affected, I can see the damaging effect these laws could have on freedom of speech, entrepreneurialism and information sharing globally. The Guardian newspaper provides a good explanatory video of how it will work.
Today, I am supporting the protests by adding a banner to my website so that more people may be aware of the implications of these draconian laws. I have also blacked-out my 10 most popular pictures on Flickr.
More information about the Stop SOPA/PIPA campaign can be found at AmericanCensorship.org.