Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Many of your favorite Websites are going on strike (UPDATED AT BOTTOM)

For no more than one day.

And for an important purpose.

The Globe and Mail explains.
In the digital world, it’s the equivalent of going on strike. Tomorrow, a number of high-profile websites, including Wikipedia, Reddit, Cheezburger Network and Boing Boing, will go dark for up to a day to protest against contentious anti-piracy legislation proposed by the U.S. Congress. 
The pending legislation would boost the power of the Justice Department to punish foreign websites that infringe copyright. It has also pit Hollywood, which has lobbied for the legislation as a tool to protect content, against Silicon Valley, which sees it as a menace to free speech.
Online lobbying efforts to kill the bill already appear to have paid off. On Saturday, the Obama administration signalled it does not support aspects of the pending legislation – the Stop Online Piracy Act – and depicted it as a threat to global innovation.
One site that will not go dark -- Twitter.

To understand why Wikipedia is especially important in this conversation, consider what the Christian Science Monitor reports.
The website will go dark for 24 hours in an unprecedented move that brings added muscle to a growing base of critics of the legislation. Wikipedia is considered one of the Internet's most popular websites, with millions of visitors daily.
"If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States," the Wikimedia foundation said.
The Stop Online Piracy Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Protect Intellectual Property Act under consideration in the Senate are designed to crack down on sales of pirated U.S. products overseas.
Lest you think this is some kind of  obscure conversation that will have little or no relevance to your life or to the real world, consider what Good magazine's managing editor has to say about SOPA's effect on the sports media world.

Of all the ways technology has changed the sports world, the ability to post and watch game footage online is arguably the biggest. It wasn’t that long ago that you actually had to see a game to see its greatest play. Even after ESPN became “The Worldwide Leader,” missing SportsCenter meant missing the play that everyone would be talking about the next day. Now? You can find at least half a dozen versions of any important play—ranging from shaky FlipCam images of someone’s TV to footage swiped from an illegal streaming website—on YouTube within half an hour. That shift has made sports fandom way more fun, and SOPA’s sponsors want to take it all away.
The Stop Online Privacy Act would restrict free speech, eliminate jobs, and stifle American innovation. Google cofounder Sergey Brin says it would “put [the United States] on a par with the most oppressive nations in the world.” And while my ability to watch Blake Griffin highlight reels is by no means the most important thing at risk in Congress’ debate over SOPA and its Senate counterpart PIPA, the bill also would undermine the entire framework of modern sports.
It might not shock you to learn that people posting highlights online usually haven’t gone through the process of acquiring the copyrights for the footage. Under SOPA, not only would the individuals be criminally liable for uploading copyrighted material, the websites would be, too. YouTube could be forced to shut down unless it found a way of policing the 48 hours of video uploaded every minute. And because at least two of the three videos I link to above are likely copyright violations, this magazine and I would be criminals, too.
If you, too, are interested in taking a stand, here is some advice from people in the know.

Before you decide what to do, at least understand what SOPA and PIPA are designed to do. The BBC offers a primer.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) is the bill being considered by the House of Representatives.
The Protect Intellectual Property Act (Pipa) is the parallel bill being considered by the Senate.
The proposed legislation is designed to tackle online piracy, with particular emphasis on illegal copies of films and other forms of media hosted on foreign servers.
The bills propose that anyone found guilty of streaming copyrighted content without permission 10 or more times within six months should face up to five years in jail.
The US government and rights holders would have the right to seek court orders against any site accused of "enabling or facilitating" piracy. This could theoretically involve an entire website being shut down because it contains a link to a suspect site.
US-based internet service providers, payment processors and advertisers would be outlawed from doing business with alleged copyright infringers. Sopa also calls for search engines to remove infringing sites from their results - Pipa does not include this provision. ...
Supporters of the bills include television networks, music publishers, movie industry bodies, book publishers and manufacturers.
Critics include Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yahoo, eBay, LinkedIn, AOL and Zynga.

1st UPDATE: 8:14 p.m. EST: Mashable.com provides an updated list of the Websites that will shut down on Wednesday as a way to protest SOPA and PIPA.

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