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Don’t Let It Happen

| January 18, 2012

Don\’t let it happen.

Wikipedia’s English pages went dark today. So did Reddit, the social bookmarking site. Google slapped a black band on its masthead, not unlike censorship blackouts that appear on printed newspapers in repressive countries. Wired turned its front page into a kaleidoscope of censorship.

The protests are in response to the Stop Online Piracy Act in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Protect IP Act in the Senate. The bills are designed to discourage or fight online piracy. But they would give the federal government a power it’s never had before: to block Americans from accessing websites the government determines to be using pirated material, such as music, movies or television shows. That power would also, by extension, be in the hands of the music and entertainment industries, which support the bills.

Tech companies such as Google and Wikipdia have been marshaling public opposition to the bills, fearing that the measures open the way for a form of government regulation of the internet more commonly associated with authoritarian regimes–where censoring the internet, blocking access to sites or filtering them is common practice–than with the United States. While the bills’ intent appears defensible (online piracy hurts the ability of artists and creators of intellectual property to make a living) their unintended consequences were not vetted by House and Senate committees that approved the bills last year, with little controversy at the time.

“Under the proposed legislation,” the Times reports, “if a copyright holder like Warner Brothers discovers that a foreign site is focused on offering illegal copies of songs or movies, it could seek a court order that would require search engines like Google to remove links to the site and require advertising companies to cut off payments to it. Internet companies fear that because the definitions of terms like “search engine” are so broad in the legislation, Web sites big and small could be responsible for monitoring all material on their pages for potential violations — an expensive and complex challenge. They say they support current law, which requires Web sites with copyright-infringing content to take it down if copyright holders ask them to, leaving the rest of the site intact. Google, which owns YouTube and other sites, received five million requests to remove content or links last year, and it says it acts in less than six hours if it determines that the request is legitimate.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, had supported the legislation until this morning. He’s backed off. “As a senator from Florida, a state with a large presence of artists, creators and businesses connected to the creation of intellectual property, I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs,” Rubio wrote in a statement disseminated on Facebook. “However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and promotes new technologies.” The words closely resemble those from the White House, which oppose the bills in some regards.

“Therefore,” Rubio continued, “I have decided to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act. Furthermore, I encourage Senator Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor. Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet.”

Click on the image below to make your voice heard:

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14 Responses for “Don’t Let It Happen”

  1. Anonymous says:

    If you haven’t called your Senator and Representative yet to oppose SOPA/PIPA, please do so TODAY. The Capitol Switchboard number is (202) 224-3121.

    So the vote is now being pushed back till late Feb. keep calling leave your info for updated information! You have time to write letters now. DO SOMETHING!!!!

  2. Alicia Conway says:

    This is my thought; We live in a country in which there is only one book for every 300 kids in low income neighborhoods, where most middle class families have encyclopedias that are so out dated it is not even funny (mine are from 1991). Yes, sometimes there is copyrights infringement, but to do anything that will take away free and quick access to knowledge is cruel. I understand the pros and the cons people are arguing, but for the greater good leave the internet alone. Let people be unafraid to run free sites offering current information, let people have access to the world, cultures and arts without the fear of fines! Let us think about all the times we have said “what did we do before google?” Before Google was a verb we reminded ignorant to topics that were not of common knowledge in the social circles we associate with. Before the WWW we did not get the chance to expand out horizons and we did not receive at our very finger tips the chance to learn how to do anything we so desired and we stayed small minded unfamiliar with a vast collection of music and arts. The world was truthfully smaller before the internet and with the negative things it has brought we all sometimes wonder “is it worth?” Well, I don’t want my world shrunk to this county and the books of our local library and so I say “the good far out ways the bad and we should leave well enough alone!” -Alicia Conway

  3. Jose Pinho via Facebook says:

    Read the bill, this is about the government trying to make money off another industry by taxing it, period!

  4. Corey Sherman via Facebook says:

    I have read the bill. VERY scary stuff.

  5. Brad says:

    First, great visual to make a point in this article.

    Second, here’s the response I put on Facebook:

    Yes piracy is wrong but that’s not the issue with the legislation. The problem is the method to combat piracy. Think of it in terms of the phone book. You list your business in the yellow pages part. A couple of the other businesses listed are engaging in illegal activity. Under SOPA approaches, the phone book would be shut down and every one would have to return their book. Does that sound logical to you?

    Likewise, is piracy the real problem for the media industry revenue? In fact, the music industry revenue has grown each year even in a down economy. Movie revenue is slightly down but is piracy the real problem? Have you gone to the movies lately? The problem is not listening to consumers and not the internet. So go after the people pirating and not punish the system. Likewise, this is also about control. The media industry has controlled the airwaves since their inception. The internet they don’t (and can’t without destroying it) control and that scares them because they have been unwilling to adapt.

    It’s very important to get educated and truly understand what this piece of bad legislation really means. Rupert Murdoch is a classic example of a proponent that is a very intelligent business man but is not understanding the internet at all and the repercussions he is advocating for.

  6. Joan Benish Binder via Facebook says:

    It’s about giving up your freedoms .. Are you ready to be controlled by the govt? Everything we give (as small as it seems to some) is one step closer to beIng a controlled society.

  7. Jose Pinho via Facebook says:

    This is just another way for CBS, ABC, NBC, Cable Companies, Satelllite Companies, Music industry to keep prices high and higher. This should be free if I can find it on the internet. Ridiculous…I have a right not to have cable and get my content for free online, peiod.

  8. Vincent Ciolino via Facebook says:

    The intention of the bill is to hold businesses accountable for the content they publish. If the material is copywritten then its against the law to publish or reproduce it without the authors permission. If a business is breaking the law they must be held accountable.

    • Brad says:

      You are correct, Vincent, but the problem is that you can’t approach the repercussions the same as you would traditional provider methods (i.e. networks, stations, broadcasts, etc.). The internet is far more vast and complex than what we are used to and what legislators are used to. For example, do you shut down for an individual uploading and broadcasting copyrighted material? Likewise, do you shut down an entire website because a link they provide to another website has been found to be engaging in illegal copyright infringement? That would be the same as shutting your physical building down because you handed out a business card for another business that violated the law.

      The internet is not a toy, and real money is being made there everyday that is a huge part of our economy. To have lawmakers that do not understand it’s complexity and have the ability to think outside the box is dangerous and can cause serious financial harm. I firmly agree that the solution is to go after the offender even if that’s difficult. That’s the real issue which is the difficulty in getting to the offenders but do the work to find the solution. Don’t just break the system for a problem that is in all honesty more speculative in terms of loss than in reality.

  9. Liana G says:

    The only candidate to speak out against this atrocity!

    Ron Paul: “My campaign, and the entire freedom movement, would not be as strong as they are today without a free Internet, and that’s just one of the reasons why the establishment hopes to censor it with SOPA and PIPA. I’m proud to see so many taking a stand today. Contact your representative and senators and tell them to oppose these disastrous bills.”


    You can’t make this stuff up. Our real politicians at work!!!!!

    …”In theory, the bills make it illegal for sites such as Google and Wikipedia to link to sites that host even tiny amounts of pirated content. And they could also force internet service providers to block access to certain addresses.

    That means they could see a swath of hapless internet users fined or imprisoned, opponents claim. Even Lamar Smith, the Republican congressman from Texas who wrote Sopa, might fall victim himself; his campaign website was reported to be carrying an uncredited landscape photograph yesterday. Although he swiftly removed it, that would not be enough to stave off prosecution under his own law.

    Supporters of the bills insist that their proposed legislation is being misrepresented. Chris Dodd, a former Democratic politician who leads the Motion Picture Association of America, the film industry’s leading lobbying organisation, branded this week’s protests “irresponsible” and “an abuse of power”.”…

    • Oneofthe10%whovoted says:

      Liana, how does Paul feel about Obama signing away the right to buy cheaper oil from Canada? One man made the decision to cut us off from oil from our neighbor and sentenced us to permanent dependence on the middle east and countries who hate us. and where the hell is the congress on this?

      How does Paul feel about this?

      • Liana G says:

        @ Oneofthe10%whovotes

        I goggled but could not find anything. But, given his stance on true/real capitalism, he most likely will leave it up to the markets without tax payer dollars subsiding any part of it. Do you think this is about finding oil to market to the consumers cheaply? No, this is about tax breaks and subsidies for these companies by us taxpayers with the false promises of cheap oil and jobs!

        These companies receive billions of dollars from the gov’t each year to supposedly improve their refinery methods and increase output. What they have actually done and continue to do is to shut some of these refineries to deliberately lower output and still charge high prices. Oil is a nonrenewable resource, it will not go bad. Why sell it cheap when you can sell high.
        If this was about these companies funding their own oil exploration, it would be a non issue. AND, if it was about creating jobs for American workers, they would reopen those shuttered refineries using the millions they have and are continuing to receive.

        This is no different from Disney and Nascar wanting taxpayers to fund their business ventures by dangling the prospect of creating jobs. How many jobs? At what pay? And how much will it cost us taxpayers? When the cost outweighs the feasibility, it’s a no brainer. Better to build roads and bridges and improve infrastructure. No more corporate welfare! And this is exactly what the Keystone Pipeline is all about!

  10. Layla says:

    It is all about the money, which is why the media industry and entertainment industry have so much political power.

    It wasn’t necessary to give them so much power in order to help curb abuse. Government has become too unaccountable, too powerful and too dangerous. They are trying to rule us, not represent us.

    And he who has the most influence and money will likely always win. Pay close attention. This issue is not going away.

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