Today several websites are raising awareness of two bills in the U.S. that could harm many, many, online entities.
I found the best explanation of the whole ordeal on Cyanide and Happiness, a web comic I love to read.
Don’t worry, the site isn’t actually blocked. But it could be in the future. Under PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), two bills being seriously considered in the United States, websites which contain or link to copyrighted material (even if posted by a user of the site) can be indefinitely blocked without trial or notice.
Doing Cyanide & Happiness for all these years has been a dream come true for us. But the sad truth is that if SOPA and PIPA were passed 10 years ago, Cyanide & Happiness almost certainly wouldn’t exist. The four of us who write and draw the comics met each other, and found our first handful of fans, at the website NewGrounds.com. NewGrounds is an animation portal which celebrates parody and derivative works, and as such often struggles with users breaking copyright.
Usually when this happens it’s the job of the offended party to have the content removed, as you’ve probably seen on YouTube many times. These two bills would instead allow the entire site to be blocked.
Without user content portals like NewGrounds and YouTube, the Internet becomes just another mainstream media outlet, instead of the wild proving ground of ideas that allows regular people like us to find a large audience. Please, if you live in the United States, do everything you can to prevent this.
Here are a few easy things you can do:
Educate yourself about how SOPA and PIPA work.
Print and mail letters to your state’s senators and representatives, urging them not to support this. Physical mail is harder to ignore than email. It piles up. You can find representatives’ addresses here and senators’ addresses here. Remember that PIPA is a Senate bill and SOPA is a House of Representatives bill.
Call your senators and representatives on the phone and urge them not to support the bills. See above links for phone numbers or click here to get a quick list of representatives based on where you live.
Let your elected representatives know, as inconveniently as possible, that censoring the Internet is something you do not and cannot support. Congressmen care about getting reelected. If everyone reading this plays their part, these bills will be killed.
If you want to blackout your own site, feel free to use any elements from this page.
I’m in Canada, so there’s nothing for me to sign – yet. But I wanted to at least help bring awareness. The following sites participating (that I am currently aware of) are;
- Cyanide and Happiness – Explosm.net
- Google.com (Canadians are usually forwarded to Google.ca and will not see this. Click on this news link to see a graphic. http://searchengineland.com/google-blackens-logo-to-protest-sopa-pipa-108436
- Mozilla (Firefox)
I quickly found there’s roughly 7000 sites participating, so I’ll cut off my list where it is. You can see a larger list at this link: http://www.dbtechno.com/us/2012/01/17/full-websites-confirmed-for-the-jan-18-blackout-protesting-sopa-and-pipa/
Here’s good video explaining the SOPA/PIPA situation.