Why is Wikipedia down??? #SOPA #PIPA
A lot has happened this past month with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT IP Act or PIPA) since I last wrote about it.
Some things haven’t changed. These bills would still cause lots of problems (chill speech, deter innovation, export censorship, harm Internet security, and many other issues), and still wouldn’t even be effective in stopping piracy; plus, there’s uncertainty of whether “piracy” is even a problem that needs to be remedied, due to the lack of unbiased data and rhetorical conflation. Also, these bills may not be intended to, but they would impact U.S. sites. Congressmen spearheading both bills have been influenced heavily by campaign donations from the entertainment industry, and are still not attempting to understand the Internet, or listen to the people who do.
But what has happened, is a fascinating display of activism, advocacy, and awareness; more than 1000 companies, organizations, and individuals have thus far expressed their opposition, from big companies like Google to individual Internet users. The Internet is both the platform for opposition, and the medium that is under threat. And the Internet community is acting! Today, Wednesday, January 18, 2012, various websites are protesting SOPA and PIPA by blacking out their sites, including Wikipedia, reddit, Mozilla, WordPress, and many, many more listed here.
There has also been some encouraging activity by the government this week:
- Rep. Smith has removed the most controversial provision from SOPA, DNS blocking, although it’s still a very flawed bill.
- Sen. Leahy put out a statement saying that before PIPA goes to the floor, he plans to propose that the positive and negative effects of the DNS provision be studied before implemented.
- The White House responded to the “We The People” epetition that had asked the President to veto SOPA and PIPA with a memo by three top Obama Administration officials. While they didn’t directly address the veto requested by petitioners, the White House did come out strongly against the DNS provisions in the bills.
- Rep. Issa postponed his planned hearing with seven key cyber-security and technology experts, because he was encouraged that SOPA was not going to move to the floor yet.
Yet despite all of this growing momentum, the bills are not dead yet:
The Senate is set to vote on PIPA on January 24, 2012.
The House will resume markup on SOPA in February 2012.
If you care, you can act! To see if your Senators and Representatives support, oppose, or don’t have a position on SOPA and PIPA, check out this site. And then, to call your Congressmen, go here. There are some other great activism resources here and here and here.
While incongruence between technology and intellectual property is nothing new, this is a really unique protest to be experiencing, and one that may impact IP legislation for years to come.