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Largest Online Protest in History: Why SOPA & PIPA Matter to You

Web Blackout SOPA and PIPA

Want to know why some of your favorite websites suddenly went black?

If you haven’t heard of SOPA or PIPA yet, I’m really not all that surprised. Mainstream media has done a great job of keeping this issue out of sight, and many people have no idea that the freedom that they now enjoy when using the internet is seriously threatened by these two bills that our government has been putting together to “protect us”. That’s why some of your favorite sites will be blacked out today – to make you aware of what’s going on, before it’s too late.

SOPA, PIPA, WTH?

Confused already? SOPA stands for the Stop Online Piracy Act, and PIPA stands for Protect Intellectual Property Act. Those sound like good things right? The problem is, the names of these bills are quite deceiving. What these bills will do is give anyone the right to shut down any website at any time. Seriously. And they would make many of us criminals.

Why this Matters to You

SOPA would give the Department of Justice the authority to shut down any website that hosts copyrighted material – Meaning, not just those sites you go to when you want to illegally download movies or music. Sites like eBay, Craigslist, Wikipeida, and my beloved Pinterest could be shut down simply because their USERS uploaded material that they didn’t own. Right now those sites are protected by “Safe Harbor” laws – but if SOPA were to pass, those sites could be deemed “enablers”, and have their entire website shut down. And there is almost nothing that a site owner can do once this happens to them.

This is Serious Stuff

There are a lot of theories about the motives behind this – But most people agree that if either of these bills were to pass, it will lead to a major censorship of the internet. Sites like Facebook won’t want to risk being shut down – so instead, they’ll have to censor their users strongly to ensure that they are in compliance with the new bills. And I don’t know about you – But I do NOT like being censored.

Who is Protesting?

This is such an incredibly big threat to the internet that we know now, that website owners are going so far as to black out their sites as a show of protest. Who is blacked out? Well, if you haven’t already noticed them, here are a few:

  • Google.com – You’ll see the black bar over their logo.
  • Wikipedia – Directs you to contact info for your representatives.
  • Craigslist – Black site, with a SOPA opposition message.
  • Reddit.com – Goes down in a few hours, you can read more on their site.
  • Mozilla.com – Goes black at 8am Eastern Time, read more.

Visit SOPAStrike.com to learn what other sites are protesting, how you can join the protest by blacking out your own site for 12 hours, how to join the movement on Twitter, and more.

Wasn’t the vote canceled?

Yes, due to the growing pressure from so many influential people on the web, they’ve temporarily delayed the vote on SOPA. But PIPA is still on track to be voted on, and SOPA is far from defeated. If you want to learn more about these bills, these sites explain it all much better than I can:

If you aren’t feeling angry, frustrated, disgusted, or a wee bit scared after reading all of those – then you didn’t read them right. JK – but seriously. I debated joining this strike, since I am EXTREMELY opposed to these bills. But – I have sponsors and media partners that I have obligations with, and since I couldn’t reach agreements with all of them on going black for a day, I’ll be staying live. I hope to black out my site for at least part of the day, this afternoon. But I wanted to do my part to spread the word about this – and encourage YOU to take action. Whether it’s writing to your congressman or simply sending out a tweet. Visit SOPASTIKE.com for more info.

What do YOU think?

Share your thoughts on SOPA and PIPA in the comments…. If you disagree with someone, be respectful. Discussion is encouraged, disrespect is not. But I would love to hear your views on this…

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Comments

  1. It was a tough decision, going dark. Like you, I have lots of brands that count on me. But since on of the things I am so passionate about is trademark and copyright laws, I had to go dark. People need to be better educated about them, and with poorly written bills, this won’t happen.

    Your post is well written, great job Meagan.

    • Sunshine and Sippy Cups says

      I keep debating back and forth. I have some obligations to take care of, but like you – I feel really passionate about the issue. Not trademark and copyright laws – But just the whole idea of limiting our ability to post freely online. This bill *may* have good ideas behind it, but it sets up an incredibly slippery slope, and could easily lead to some major changes in our freedoms online.

      Heck – the Patriot Act was supposed to be a good thing too. “Stop terrorists. America is awesome!” But it led to major abuses of power. Why? Because it gave huge amounts of power with very little oversight, and gave citizens almost no recourse when they’ve been wronged. Sounds a lot like SOPA, right? And is there ANYONE who really trusts the government enough to hand them a big ol’ bunch of power like this? I sure don’t….

      It’s actually a bit amazing to see so many major sites shutting down, and standing behind the opposition to these bills. It does make me want to flip the “off” switch too….. Tough choices.

  2. One thing I was thinking about was: What could this legislation mean for cable/satellite/phone bills? If they pass this law, they will need manpower to enforce it.

    You know the REALLY sad thing? Remember a few years ago when the television writers went on strike? The main reason they went on strike was that none of the actors or writers were given residuals for sites such as Hulu that deliver their content with paid advertising.

    I’m reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants right now, and she said it actors STILL don’t make residuals. She also said to be prepared for an actors’ strike in 2012.

    Now, who are the REAL pirates here?

  3. Good post. This has to stop, it’s so ridiculous! I’m sharing your post!

  4. I love the fact that we can make a difference. But I came from one suppressed country – don’t want to live in another one

  5. Thanks for caring!!

  6. What is the world coming to when people in power constanly UP the level of control to keep us “safe”… from ourselves? It has been happing for thousands of years but that doesnt make it palatable or sensible or condonable.
    Yes, I do believe it’s about money. .. sadly.
    Thank you for championing this Megan and bringing it to our attention. This I will share

  7. Thank you very much for posting this. I have noticed today that Google logo was blanked out. It got me curios so I clicked on it. It took me to the petition site that I have signed.

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