I'm going to be serious for a moment. Please read this!
Our congress is currently working on legislation with the potential to heavily censor the Internet. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the US House of Representatives and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP) in the Senate are serious, by-partisan threats to our first amendment rights! Sorry to be such a downer, but I feel strongly that this topic needs more attention. Informed citizens can still make a difference, for the time being. SOPA in particular has the potential to change the Internet as we know it by allowing the blocking of any web site in which copy-righted material is being streamed without proper authority. This would include, but is not limited to, YouTube and Reddit; Facebook is another potential target.
I’ve been following the progress on these bills for sometime now. A recent article by Mythbuster Adam Savage does a much better job of explained the bill and how it relates to the Internet than I can. SOPA is built around the idea that an individual can report copy-right infringements on a give web site and in turn that web site will be blocked with little to no oversight and WITHOUT a court order. The site will be blocked on DNS level so it will be very hard and very illegal to work around the block. Put SOPA together with the NDAA bill that was signed into law on December 31, and you’re looking at a full on 1984 style crack down. Imagine being deemed a terrorist and arrested and held indefinitely because you are trying to get to blocked YouTube videos of Celebrity Jeopardy. Seriously. This censorship cannot be allowed to get to the President's desk for signature. With the New Year, congress will come back into session and pick these laws back up. It is vital we, as citizens of the USA and of the Internet contact them and let them know how terrible these bills are. Here is a web site that has all contact information (phone, email, snail mail) for any elected official you may want to contact.
I think it is also important to point out that these bills are by-partisan. Not much of that going around these days. So what is the root cause of this so rare across the isle support for such a bill? Money, influence and power. Here is a site that links the money given by music and movie companies to our Representatives and Senators for the support of the bills in question. I’m not stupid; I know this kind of thing goes on all the time in Washington, but that doesn’t make it right. Last time I checked they (congressmen and women) all still make over 100k a year under the guise of representing the tax payers.
I am not pro-piracy. I do believe people should pay for music and movies and such. But this legislation is bad. Like so many other things our congress does, their intentions may be in the right place, but they fail to see the unintended consequences. Please take the time to understand this legislation, form your own opinion and take action. Knowing is half the battle.