The holidays put a bit of a damper on the web outrage surrounding the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, more commonly known as SOPA, and its ugly sister PIPA, short for the Protect Intellectual Property Act.
The two bits of legislation have sustained a terrifyingly high amount of support among lawmakers despite the obvious devastating consequences to the internet and all the commerce it creates. The concern is not surrounding loss of revenue due to piracy, but rather abuse of all the “good faith” aspects of the laws- among other things- to wit, if I don’t like what you have to say in a post-SOPA world, my vendetta could be the end of your internet commerce.
TorrentFreak, a blog that centers around issues of internet freedom, spoke with a First Amendment lawyer about the potentially horrific outcomes for SOPA. Marvin Ammori uses the popular social aggregator Reddit as an example of how an American site could be swept into the gears of the legislation:
“Reddit is most likely to be illegal under the second category as anti-circumvention… Any tool that helps anyone circumvent the bills’ remedies are illegal. Since the bills’ remedies include domain-name breaking and removal from search engines, any American sites that permit you to search for, or find, The Pirate Bay’s new domain name is potentially liable for circumvention.”
Ammori breaks it down legal-interpretation style:
“I think if the community posts an article and votes for an article that helps people get to a targeted site, perhaps by listing the target site’s IP-address or new domain name, then Reddit itself might be ‘a product or service designed or marketed for the circumvention or bypassing of measures’. The copyright industry might argue that Reddit’s products (links) are designed or marketed by Reddit or by users ‘in concert with’ Reddit.”
Are you concerned about the looming possible passage of SOPA? (If so, you can use this add-on to Chrome to discover and not patronize companies that seek to destroy the internet for their own financial gain.)