Wednesday, and the Internet will have a new look. Dark. Hundreds of sites across the Internet will either not be posting or unavailable in mass protest against an extraordinary piece of proposed legislation. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and her Senate sister PIPA (The Protect IP Act).
SOPA is something from Orwell’s 1984 which will strike down any website it choses if it believes that that site is using non copyright materials. So even if you are huge and have 16,000,000 users ever day and one single idiot uploads an MP3 file this legislation would grant a court the right to close you down. Not just remove the content until the argument is settled but just to shut you down entirely and take your website, or blog off line.
Even if you link to the supposed offending site you might be vulnerable for directing persons to a site proven to be infringing SOPA and be subject to closure.
Effectively the idea would place a China firewall round the United States and isolate her internet from the world.
Do the authorities have to prove any such claims? No of course not. This is the new America where you are guilty until you can establish your innocence.
So, who will this actually affect? Possibly not Facebook or Youtube both of whom are financial giants, well fed with funds, and able to employ the very nastiest lawyers the Legal Establishment can produce to fend the state off. No, it will be the smaller stuff that I worry about. The bespoke site dedicated to single interest or specialist concerns, the political blogs, the irritants and the investigators.
So far the Internet has kicked this legislation into touch. Wednesday is just to remind everyone what they might lose and to remind people how precious the freedom of speech really is.
Copyright David Macadam 2012