Generic Political Column
sopa sucks a giant bowl of dicks
We took whatthefuck.com down for a few hours today to protest SOPA, the so-called "Stop Online Piracy Act", and PIPA, the PROTECT IP Act. This is what you saw instead of this site. I'm sure by now, you've seen a few of your favorite sites go partially or fully dark today to raise awareness of this act. For those of you outside of the United States, we're terribly sorry for the inconvenience, since SOPA has almost zero bearing on you. In case you have no idea what these do, I will break it down for you.
SOPA is designed to censor the web.
This act will give power to law enforcement agencies to unilaterally block access to any site deemed a conduit for online piracy. This is done through what is effectively a nationwide firewall or block filter that every ISP has to support. The amount of documentation required is minimal, less than a DMCA takedown notice that you may have seen from your ISP when downloading the latest sequel to Twilight. For instance, as a slippery slope argument, if someone posts a name of a torrent to a message board on whatthefuck.com, they would have the ability to get whatthefuck.com filtered.
SOPA is yet another way that innovation is lost in the US.
SOPA and PIPA also make it easier for companies to take legal action against ISPs, content providers, and payment processors if they are in some way connected to illegal content. Sites like YouTube could be prosecuted for not using enough filtering technology to censor out commercial music or videos from users. Sites run by one or two people are hosed, since they just don't have the manpower to handle this type of filtering.
The insult added to injury is that SOPA and PIPA probably will not actually protect IP or stop piracy. This is the internet, folks. Those who are distributing pirated software and leaking professionally recorded music will still find newer, better ways to continue doing those things. Meanwhile, just like DMCA, DRM, and copy protection before it, these measures will make it significantly more difficult on every day people who just want to access and publish content on the internet. Publishers will have to comply with new filtering and publishing guidelines, second and third guess whether something should and can be published, and lose a lot of money if anything triggers their site getting filtered.