While normally I’m not a very political person and I don’t always like to use my platforms to preach my political or personal stances, there’s a bill in the US Senate right now that could possibly change the way we use the internet – and not necessarily for the better.
SOPA was a bill that the House dropped just recently but was trying to push through. The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who requests the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites.
PIPA is the Senates version of the bill – and there’s not really much difference between them. There are a lot of internet heavyweights against this bill – and with so much of our economy being “virtual goods”, things like websites, subscriptions, advertisements, etc – these internet heavyweights have a lot of pull. Google has come out against the bill, and so has Facebook, Wikipedia, Reddit, Microsoft, and a whole bunch of others. Godaddy recently supported the bill and it came back to bite them when they lost loads of business over it.
Tomorrow two of the heavyweights are going to have 12 hour blackouts to boycott the bill and raise awareness of the issue: Reddit and Wikipedia. Reddit gets somewhere around 35 million unique visitors and 2 billion pageviews a month while Wikipedia gets between 4 and 5 million visitors a day and almost 90 page edits per minute. There’s already a twitter following at hashtag #BlackoutSOPA.
I’m really only covering this issue for one reason – it could affect the way our site works. Some things like screenshots of games we cover are images belonging to video game companies – we couldn’t possibly write in a request to use each and every image. We occasionally link to Youtube videos, and in a recent precedent it turns out that you can be extradited to the US to stand trial for copyright infringement for simply linking to copyrighted material.
Blackout Day Update: Google has followed suit with a logo banner today and information about PIPA/SOPA. Over 7000 websites are participating in the blackout from Boingboing to Minecraft.net. We may only get 50 unique visitors a day here at JOB, but we’ve put up information about it as well. Razer gaming has a pretty funny frontpage today (NSFW, language).
To learn more about PIPA and SOPA, check out Reddit today and read the bills yourself.