UPDATED: Links have been added to the “Learn More” section.
Tomorrow, many of your favorite websites will go dark.
You won’t see anything on those sites because they’re participating — as am I, as is this site and every site I own — in a protest against the single most dangerous threat against the freedom of the internet and all its marvelous, wacky, wise, infuriating ways: SOPA.
What Is SOPA?
SOPA — the Stop Online Piracy Act — is a poorly-written, poorly-conceived, and vastly overbroad piece of legislation (the House version is PIPA — Protect Intellectual Property Act) that’s ostensibly designed to strengthen IP rights and stop piracy and appropriation online.
That’s what it’s designed to do. What it really does is kill the internet. And no, I don’t think that’s hyperbole.
It would allow unprecedented intrusions into your online activity — including activity you now think is private, or at least as private as you make it (like Facebook).
It would allow the government to monkey around with the very architecture of the web, all in the name of protecting copyright and patent holders’ property rights — at merely the suggestion of misuse.
It would allow corporations and other parties to completely cut off websites originating in other countries and cut off payment processing apps and interfaces.
And most alarmingly of all, to me — I’ll just let EFF tell you:
Service providers would be forced to monitor and police their users’ activities as well, threatening the DMCA safe harbors that have been vital to online innovation over the last decade. SOPA [also] gives the government new powers to go after sites that provide information about tools that might be used to bypass the blacklists – even though these are often the same tools used by democratic activists around the world to bypass Internet censorship mechanisms implemented by authoritarian governments like Iran and China.
How Can You Help?
First, learn more about this awful piece of legislation. Links are below, in the following section.
Second, take your WordPress site dark tomorrow. Instructions are in the last section in this piece right here (“Take Your WordPress Website Dark In One Easy Step”).
Third, share this post with all your friends on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. At the end of this piece you’ll see a bunch of social media/sharing icons that make it super easy to do this.
Fourth, get in touch with your senators. Let them know your views in advance of the January 24th vote. You can use this tool from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Finally, change your avatars for your social media accounts to one of the anti-SOPA badges available at BlackoutSOPA.org.
Learn More About Dangerous, Silly SOPA
I haven’t read all of these but they’re all linked to from the blackoutSOPA.org website, and I can vouch for sopaopera.org, the PublicKnowledge.org piece, and the Obama administration response:
- publicknowledge.org: “This Bill Seriously Screws with the Internet”
- sopaopera.org: The who and why of the Congressional debate on the Stop Online Piracy (SOPA) and the PROTECT-IP Acts
- Sergey Brin: This is why I signed on to the following open letter with many other founders …
- John Lilly: What’s bothering me about the SOPA “discussion”
- Steve Blank: Why The Movie Industry Can’t Innovate and the Result is SOPA
- Obama Administration Responds to We the People Petitions on SOPA and Online Piracy
- new! Wikipedia: SOPA Initiative – Take Action
Take Your WordPress Website Dark In One Easy Step
If your website is WordPress powered, you can join tomorrow’s protest in one easy step with the SOPA Blackout plugin. It sends a 503 message to the search engines, so you won’t get penalized for going dark. You can customize what gets displayed in place of your website, too.
UPDATE: Easy Instructions For Non-WordPress Sites
Add the following to your header code:
It will show this page.
Why You Should Care a LOT About SOPA/PIPA
If you have a website … if you have a business that utilizes any form of content marketing or sells goods or digital files … if you even USE the internet (which — face it, that’s all of us), you have a vested interest in what happens here.
Do even a little bit of research, and it becomes clear really quickly: there’s an overwhelming consensus among some pretty strange virtual bedfellows that SOPA/PIPA is dangerous and must be stopped. The things that make the web such an amazing tool for social change, democracy, invention and inventiveness and creativity and all that great stuff are in serious, imminent jeopardy.
Please act. Strength in numbers.