Perhaps you’ve noticed several websites—such as Wikipedia and Reddit—have gone black today, and are wondering why. Well, it all has to do with SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act), a piece of legislation in the House of Representatives that is ostensibly designed to stifle the online piracy of copyrighted material.
The problem, however, is that a lot of the fine print of SOPA will effectively allow the government to, in effect, control the flow of information on the internet, and shut down any website that is “suspected or accused of copyright infringement, or those that link to sites that infringe copyright.” In effect, a site like ScreenCrave could post a Dark Knight Rises plot leak, Warner Bros. may not like that, and voila—the ScreenCrave IP address is blocked and the site is not accessible. And so, in protest, many websites are going dark today.
One organization that isn’t against the passing of SOPA is the Motion Picture Association of America. Why? Well, the MPAA likes to blame online piracy of films for the failings of the film industry (and not the fact that Hollywood is churning out crap like Mars Needs Moms, anything Vin Diesel stars in, remake after remake after remake, and one endless crappy 3-D sequel after another). In a rather pissy move, MPAA chairman and CEO/senator Chris Dodd took a shot at the sites that are taking a stance against online censorship:
“Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging…
It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today…
A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals. It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”
What do you think about his comments? And what do you think about SOPA?