Tuesday, January 17, 2012

don't break the internet

I try not to plug my own stuff here (that's what Twitter is for), but as bloggers, you can't ignore this issue -- or risk five years in jail time for posting a parody of a pop song. 

The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, may or may not be destroyed (verdict's out), but its Senate identical twin PIPA is still at large. 

In brief: Hollywood lobbied Congress to regulate pirated material. 

Hollywood asked (paid millions of dollars) Congress for teeth; a real method of punishment against online pirates. 

Congress responded with a bill chock full of ridiculous punishments (including, yes, a five-year jail sentence for numerous copyright infringements) intended to target foreign sites, but written with language vague enough to affect the entire Internet.

The bills call for any intellectual property owner (Justin Bieber, let's say) to file a complaint to Internet service providers. Those providers would then have five days to shut down a site (or a blog), block it from search engines, cut off ad revenue, and cease all payments (PayPal, Visa, etc.). Until a few days ago, the bill also called for the blocking of domain names: meaning theloadedhandbag.com would suddenly disappear and y'all would have no clue where I went. No court time. No official lawsuits. No innocent-until-proven-guilty. Nada.

Worse still, the bill calls for punishment even if you didn't violate any copyrights. If one commenter posts a link to a site with a copyright violation, your blog can be shut down.

Yeah. That sucks, doesn't it? Especially given how many parodies, gifs, videos, and images out there use copyrighted material. Especially how many of us bloggers post said parodies, gifs, videos, and images. Especially because our site could be shut down -- or we could go to jail -- because of them. Ridiculous.

This is an article I wrote about the entire ordeal. Please read it: it affects the entire blogosphere (indeed, the entire Internet). It explains why it got started, how it will affect you, and how you can fight to stop it. Please share it. Hell, if you don't want to share my words, share someone else's. Write your own. As I wrote in the article: 

I write for the Internet. I know it well. I know its risks and I know its shortcomings. I know it’s fickle, untamed, a wild thing. I know how fast it can turn on you. The Internet is what feeds me, pays my rent, moves me, inspires me, and lets me inspire. The Internet is mine, it’s yours, it’s this scrappy, cobbled-together chaos forged by billions of hands, led by billions of voices. The Internet matters to me. And I’m not about to let Congress mess with it. Not without a fight.

Now let's strap on our helmets and start fighting, kids. We've got too much to lose. 



  1. not enough people understand what this could potentially mean. thanks for helping spread the word.

    1. Thanks, Steph. It affects us all, and it's ridiculously relevant.

  2. The time has come...to stop writing letters arguing the futility of the Electoral College. It is time to write letters about the buying and selling of democracy. I read your article. It will be linked on my Facebook.

    1. "It is time to write letters about the buying and selling of democracy." So powerful, so true.

      Thank you so much for sharing. Sincerely.

    2. It got lots of shares after I posted it. I'd link your blog, too, but then my job might find me and I'd rather not be found. I insult our customers too much...anyway, with any luck the evil twins will be dead and buried. Padawan called one of our Senators today and offered his opinion. The official answer was that our Senators haven't taken an official stance on PIPA/SOPA yet. And apparently one of our Representatives has declared in favor of SOPA, but no one else. There is hope for the future if we can just keep spreading the word.

  3. Your article almost broke the internetz with its awesomeness.


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