The Day The Internet Died: SOPA Foes Go Black

Q101 will not go black like some 7,000 other sites today.  This trend toward self-censorship in order to protest perceived censorship is not our style.  Rather, we prefer to shed what light we can on the matter, do a little dance, make a little love, and get down tonight.  To each his/her own.  That’s the beauty of the world as we see it:  There are a million things to do and a billion ways to do them.

The best defense is a good offense we say.  And there’s no better way to be offensive then to keep our doors open.  So open for business we are today. You can’t protest curtailment of free-speech with silence in our estimation.  To somewhat paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., just days from his, uh, day:  Only light can fight darkness.

Having said that, we understand what Google and thousands of others are saying and doing with this pr stunt.  We get it.  It’s actually pretty cool to see mega-corporations all banding together to fight other mega-corporations.  Refreshing in many ways.

So instead of pulling our own plug, why not brush up a little on what’s happening and how it could affect us all?  As usual, we report, you decide…oh wait, that phrase is taken isn’t it?  Uh…wouldn’t want to steal anything…we’ll have to go back to the drawing board on that one.

If you want to voice your concerns to your congressional representatives, or your support of SOPA, whatever strikes your fancy…Wikipedia has made it easy:

Read on about SOPA from CNN…who’s parent company, by the way, is in favor of it.  Just sayin’…

The tech industry is abuzz about SOPA and PIPA, a pair of anti-piracy bills. Here’s why they’re controversial, and how they would change the digital landscape if they became law.

What is SOPA? SOPA is an acronym for the Stop Online Piracy Act. It’s a proposed bill that aims to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content.

SOPA’s main targets are “rogue” overseas sites like torrent hub The Pirate Bay, which are a trove for illegal downloads. Go to the The Pirate Bay, type in any current hit movie or TV show like “Glee,” and you’ll see links to download full seasons and recent episodes for free.

Content creators have battled against piracy for years — remember Napster? — but it’s hard for U.S. companies to take action against foreign sites. The Pirate Bay’s servers are physically located in Sweden. So SOPA’s goal is to cut off pirate sites’ oxygen by requiring U.S. search engines, advertising networks and other providers to withhold their services.

That means sites like Google wouldn’t show flagged sites in their search results, and payment processors like eBay’s (EBAY, Fortune 500) PayPal couldn’t transmit funds to them.

Both sides say they agree that protecting content is a worthy goal. But opponents say that the way SOPA is written effectively promotes censorship and is rife with the potential for unintended consequences.

Silicon Valley woke up and took notice of the implications when SOPA was introduced in the House of Representatives in October. But its very similar counterpart, PIPA (the Protect IP Act), flew under the radar and was approved by a Senate committee in May. PIPA is now pending before the full Senate and scheduled for a vote on January 24, though some senators are pushing for a delay.

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Isn’t copyright infringement already illegal? Yes. The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act lays out enforcement measures.

Let’s say a YouTube user uploads a copyrighted song. Under the current law, that song’s copyright holders could send a “takedown notice” to YouTube. YouTube is protected against liability as long as it removes the content within a reasonable timeframe.

When it gets a DMCA warning, YouTube has to notify the user who uploaded the content. That user has the right to file a counter-motion demonstrating that the content doesn’t infringe on any copyrights. If the two sides keep disagreeing, the issue can go to court.

The problem with DMCA, critics say, is that it’s useless against overseas sites.

SOPA tackles that by moving up the chain. If you can’t force overseas sites to take down copyrighted work, you can at least stop U.S. companies from providing their services to those sites. You can also make it harder for U.S. Internet users to find and access the sites.

But SOPA goes further than DMCA and potentially puts site operators — even those based in the U.S. — on the hook for content that their users upload. The proposed bill’s text says that a site could be deemed a SOPA scofflaw if it “facilitates” copyright infringement.

That very broad language has tech companies spooked.

Sites like YouTube, which publishes millions of user-uploaded videos each week, are worried that they would be forced to more closely police that content to avoid running afoul of the new rules.

“YouTube would just go dark immediately,” Google public policy director Bob Boorstin said at a conference last month. “It couldn’t function.”

READ MORE HERE (Unless they decide to go black, and you know what they say about goin’ black)…


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