For journalists, bloggers and techies alike, last week passed in a whirlwind of headlines covering the controversy surrounding SOPA, the proposed anti-piracy legislation in the U.S. Some of the powerful language used to characterize the dispute? Protest, blackout, fear and censorship, to name but a few. Some of the bill's opponents, namely Mashable's editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff, have declared that the passing of SOPA, if it were to occur, would be a regression into the "Dark Ages".
A bold statement indeed, but his sentiment is shared by many who see this bill, along with PIPA, (Protect Intellectual Property Act) as an attempt to drastically alter the internet, reverting back to the days of one-way content distribution (remember that good 'ol Encyclopedia Britannica on CD-ROM?). Others have taken a less apocalyptic stance, but most agree that if passed, this legislation would radically change the face of the internet and content sharing.
What is SOPA?
SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, is designed to target and penalize online copyright infringement. The part of the legislation that is deemed to be most threatening is not just the penalty against individual offenders, but the shutting down of those sites that provide "tools" for copyright infringement to take place, as well as the removal of such sites in search engine results.
What does that mean? If the bill is passed, any website "directed" towards U.S users that is seen to violate copyright laws will be targeted and shut down. What's more, any site that relies heavily on user-generated content will be at some form of risk, which includes Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter... the list goes on.
Wednesday's blackout protest intended to raise awareness of the issue beyond the technology community, and tens of thousands of websites took part, including Wikipedia, Twitter, Cheezburger and WordPress. Check out some of the other participating websites here.
Although Facebook and Google couldn't risk full-scale blackouts, they found their own ways to announce their opposition. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took to Facebook to comment, "We can't let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the internet's development. Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the internet." Google took action by changing its homepage in the U.S, encouraging visitors to sign a petition against SOPA and PIPA, and they have already received 7 million signatures.
Meanwhile, a backlash campaign has also been launched in the U.S by Creative America, an organization representing leading entertainment unions and media companies in support of the bills. The campaign included a banner ad in New York's Time Square that offered suggestions on what to do during an internet blackout, including reading, listening to music or watching a movie.
It's difficult to know what will happen leading up to the Senate vote on PIPA on January 24th. However, a wave of further blackouts has been predicted and Wikipedia, for one, has announced that "We're not done yet."
What are your thoughts on SOPA? Is this really a death to content sharing as we know it in the U.S? If you're curious to get a sense of some of the other perspectives on the matter, check out this "Viewpoints" piece from BBC News and let us know what you think!
Originally posted on Marqui's Web Marketing Blog
Marqui's Web Marketing Blog is brought to you by their marketing and consulting team to share ideas, best practices and trends from the world of web marketing. The blog aims to cover a broad array of topics relating to web marketing including content management, conversion optimization, SEO, email marketing and lead nurturing.
Posted by Sue Ansell at January 26, 2012 5:30 AM