As I'm sure you noticed, much of the web went dark on Wednesday (January 18, 2012). I am very impressed with some of the big name websites that did a complete or partial blackout. Google, Wikipedia, Wired, FireFox, Reddit, WordPress, MoveOn, InspiredMag and many more joined in this peaceful online protest. Our message was clear SOPA and PIPA are bad bills. I imagine there are still some lingering questions about all of this. I'd like to address just a few of them.
Why are SOPA and PIPA so bad?
There are a lot of reasons, but I'll give just a few.
- They will not accomplish their goal of ending online piracy.
- They will open the door to censorship.
- They remove the onus from individuals and put it on site owners.
- They are far too ambiguous.
Did the January 17 protest accomplish anything?
Bearing in mind the goal of the protest, the answer is certainly Yes.
- It raised colossal awareness among the general public.
- Senators websites were reported to be crashed with an overload of e-mails.
- Senator Marco Rubio (co-sponsor of PIPA) was reported to remove his name from the bill.
- Representative Ben Quayle (co-sponsor of SOPA) was reported to remove his name from the bill.
- The likely "No" votes have risen from just 5 to 35. (Note, it takes 41 to stall the PIPA.)
Do we need a bill like SOPA or PIPA?
Personally, I don't think that we do. I'm a creative person. I create things for a living. As a proprietary creator I feel sufficiently protected from would-be hacks. Now, I don't have that much to loose really. There are those in New York and Hollywood and Nashville who's entire lively hoods depend on them making the proper about of money from their creation ... right? Yeah, but they aren't the ones complaining.
It's the companies that "own" the rights to others' creations that want these bills.
Is there an alternative to SOPA or PIPA?
Yes, there is. If you absolutely feel the need for a law to better protect the rights to your instinctual property you might want to check out OPEN. This bill differs from its poorly thought out counterparts in several ways. I'm just going to give the ones that are most important to me.
- OPEN targets intentional infringers rather than making honest site owners vulnerable.
- OPEN gives the ITC decision making powers on international IP investigations.
- OPEN does not attempt to touch the DNS.
- OPEN leaves the onus on those committing crimes.
I hope this information has been helpful. I'd be happy to answer any questions about these bills or any other web-related interests. Feel free to ask me anytime.