The world seemed to be on strike in 2011 and now 2012 brings the first global protest from your time-crunching, hour wasting, and very depended-upon Net. The Internet is on Strike too?
No Wikipedia in less than 2 hours! NO GOOGLE! Mozilla Even Wordpress has blacked out their Freshly Pressed page. Even some alternative living social networks are joining in. Twitter and Facebook seem to be mum about the issue but Twitterers are going black #sopastrike.
YES. The Internet is going on strike. The blackout is a protest against proposed legislation in the United States – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate – that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet. It may seem like a much needed law for artists but what is being proposed will do more harm than good. The Internet is global and this protest is global.
What does this mean for artists?
This is what Fractured Atlas wrote in an email today to its members.
The Wrong Way to Protect IP
For a few months now we’ve been tracking a couple of ostensibly artist-friendly bills in Congress that are designed to enhance the ability of copyright-holders to enforce their rights online by shutting down websites dedicated to piracy of intellectual property. Think MP3s, movies, and filesharing (and some more nefarious stuff, too, like Russian websites that sell complete digital albums for a few bucks and never pay the artists).
The House bill is called SOPA (H.R. 3261), and its Senate counterpart is the Protect IP Act (S. 968). So far, folks claiming to represent artists have lined up in support. Mainly that includes the RIAA and the MPAA (hence “claiming” to represent). Most of the big performing arts unions have also signed on.
Fractured Atlas has the largest membership of any arts service organization in the country. As a non-profit, our raison d’etre is to support and assist the arts community in whatever ways we can. It should go without saying that we believe passionately in the importance of artists being paid for their work. We fundamentally believe in copyright and think it can and should be enforced. The problem is that these bills are the wrong way to do it.
The enforcement mechanisms in SOPA and Protect IP will have a dangerous, destabilizing effect on the technical fabric of the internet. This isn’t the right forum for a deeply technical discussion, but suffice it to say that they mess with the Domain Name System, a.k.a. DNS. DNS is how your browser knows what server to look for when you type in a web address like www.fracturedatlas.org or www.google.com. For an excellent and fairly accessible summary of the inherent flaws in this approach, check out this piece from the Center for Democracy and Technology. There’s also a great post on Copyblogger.
The other big problem with SOPA and Protect IP is that they allow for private right of action. That means there’s little to no due process involved. It would be terrifyingly easy for someone to shut down a competitor’s website by falsely claiming it was illegally distributing copyrighted material. Yes, there are ways to defend oneself, but they’ve proven complicated, expensive, and error prone. So unless you can afford a team of high-priced lawyers, you’re vulnerable.
This afternoon I wrote a letter to Senate leadership urging them not to proceed with passing Protect IP without giving a full hearing to alternative approaches. The full copy of the letter is embedded below.
If you’d like to weigh in yourself, you can use this tool provided by Daily Kos. It’ll just take a few seconds to get your message to your Senators. Even better, talk to your Senators while they’re on the January recess.
It’s admirable that folks in Congress want to stand up for the rights of artists. But let’s be smart about it. Instead of rushing through misguided, dangerous legislation, let’s all take a deep breath, go back to the drawing board, and take the time to get this right.
Learn more about the strike! Visit:
And Contact your Reps!
Find your Senators
Find your Reps
Write an Email to Congress
JOIN THE STRIKE IN YOUR OWN WAY
- If you have a Twitter account, tweet about the #SOPASTRIKE and ask your followers to get ready. You can follow us on twitter for news as the strike gets closer. Go to Blackout SOPA to add ‘STOP SOPA’ to your Twitter , Facebook, Google+ image.
- Post this SOPA Strike page to your Facebook account by clicking here.
- Get ready for January 18th! Email and tweet at your friends, tell them to tell everyone about the strike. When the day comes, call Congress, tweet like crazy (#SOPASTRIKE), and help the strike appear everywhere!