Today, founder of the non-profit behind information archive Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, announced that the site will go dark for 24 hours on Wednesday in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). (TNW Insider).
First, for most, SOPA is short for Stop On-line Piracy Act, a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Congress that proposes to extend the power of law enforcement and copyright holders in the US to combat online piracy, and it would essentially allow the US Department of Justice and copyright-holders to seek court orders against websites accused of facilitating copyright infringement.
Ironically, this is the second such bill. The first one, part of the Patriot Act, already grants broad powers to the United States Government to go after and shut down data sites, but this is the first one that allows the copyright holders to bring the action, and numerous luminaries believe this will cripple the Internet more than anything that has come before. And they are probably right. But a bigger question is this: Is anyone paying attention?
Like most bills, this one is an attempt to resolve what is perceived as a problem, without fully addressing the scope of the issue and using a howitzer to remove a tumour. People that do not understand the issues are rushing to impose their political view (is it a surprise this is being introduced by the small government unless it is related to stripping away your rights Republicans) on people that not only know better but could probably solve the problem in a couple of minutes without the need for pages of legal documents. Worse, the sources of the violations are not in hosted in the United States and the law will have no impact on these sites. In fact, all it will do is hasten the brain drain from the close-minded United States to those countries that are more open minded about change and resolution.
Since September 11, the citizens of the United States have, in the name of security, seen more of their rights chipped away than at any time in the country's history. And SOPA is only one more example of this. So what are you going to do about it? The Presidential election is only 10 months away.
U P D A T E: Maybe someone is paying attention: "SOPA is not dead; it has been shelved and wont return until a consensus is reached, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)." (Imgur) The Senate is still scheduled to vote.