Since I can’t black the site out…

The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.
~Eric Schmidt

…I’ll just rant instead.

I should hope by now you’ve heard about SOPA and PIPA. SOPA has apparently been shelved for the moment, but PIPA is still kicking around in the Senate.

Others have already done a better job of dissecting SOPA than I, but here’s the kicker, if you’re unfamiliar:

“An `Internet site is dedicated to theft of U.S. property’ if [a portion of the site is US-directed] and is used by users within the United States and is primarily designed or operated for the purpose of offering services in a manner that enables or facilitates [copyright violation or circumvention of copyright protection measures].

Still doesn’t sound that bad, but consider this: Any site that allows users to post content is “primarily designed for the purpose of offering services in a manner that enables copyright violation.” The site doesn’t have to be clearly designed for the purpose of copyright violation; it only has to provide functionality that can be used to enable copyright violation.

This means that YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia, Gmail, Dropbox and millions of other sites would be “Internet sites…dedicated to theft of U.S. property,” under SOPA’s definition. Simply providing a feature that would make it possible for someone to commit copyright infringement or circumvention (see: 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0) is enough to get your entire site branded as an infringing site.

Furthermore, you may be painted as infringing if you, the site owner, “take deliberate actions to avoid confirming a high probability of the use of…the site to carry out acts [of copyright infringement or circumvention].” This means if you deliberately decide that it’s not cost-effective to screen every piece of content and determine whether or not it is copyright-free before it is posted to your site (whether there is infringing content on your site or not), then you are labeled as an “Internet site…dedicated to theft of U.S. property.” Simply the act of not actively screening every piece of content makes you a criminal under SOPA.

Basically, these bills give the US government and copyright holders (namely, the RIAA and other assholes) the ability to effectively shut down websites for the most vague of reasons.

Let’s take thatguywiththeglasses.com, for example. He does a hilarious show called “Nostalgia Critic.” Recently, he reviewed “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” It was not a favorable review. What if the company who owns the franchise decided they didn’t like that and took action against That Guy With The Glasses? Well, with SOPA or PIPA in place, all they’d have to do is yell and his site would be removed from search engines, have any and all advertising removed, and be blacklisted by such entities as Paypal. Because his site allows comments, basically. And hell, if what I was told was correct, he already had to fight off this type of bullcrap once when he reviewed “The Room,” based on his use of clips from the movie in question during the review. The review is back up, since his use of clips is fair use.

Something similar happened with YuGiOh: The Abridged Series, which was removed from Youtube for a while for copyright violation DESPITE the fact that parody is also supposedly protected.

The TL;DR version: the intellectual property protection guys are fucking nuts, have a lot of money, and want the internet on a very short leash. Tell them where they can shove it.

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