The Internet is under siege and users are fighting back. In case you missed the memo, there are two laws currently being debated in the US Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA and the Protect IP Act or PIPA that threaten to change the Internet landscape as we know it.
In short, both laws allow entertainment companies to use a broad range of tools and avenues to restrict, block and pursue legal action against anyone on the Internet they feel is infringing on their rights or advocating for piracy-like activities. In other words, you will not be able to find any music, movies or any other content on any sharing or social media sites AT ALL. Period.
So what has the net been doing to fight back? Well, in the first place there has been a massive awareness campaign going on across thee Internet such as this one on CNET. The main aim is to ensure people truly understand the implications of these two bills. You may then be asking, what does that have to do with the Internet? Isn’t that just some laws in the US that will not affect the really big Internet?
That’s a wrong assumption and here’s why. If these two laws pass, they will set precedent to all other related laws that may be enacted all across the world. So this means you will not simply be able to log on to a .co.uk address and it’s business as usual.
For a better understanding of how the Internet works, here is a great article from the BusinessInsider. With some background to how the Internet works, you understand that if the ISP’s in the world become too afraid to host any user-generated content (a lot of which is copyright infringing) then you may be certain the free expression of the Internet will whittle down to nothing.
So, if you want to join the fray and fight against SOPA and PIPA, there are a number of whys you can make your mark. The first is to place a call to your congressman. The other is to create awareness through your online voice, whether blogging, tweeting, etc.
But now there is another way to do it. Reddit started the Project Blackout with a promise to black out the site for 12 hours on the 18th of January and now there are all manner of apps and plugins to help you make your mark. It seems the fight is only beginning.
There are now a bunch of WordPress plugins that allow you to participate in the blackout. On such plugin is the “Simple Stop SOPA” plugin that promises to censor your site on January 18th between 8am and 8pm local time in protest of SOPA and PIPA and replace your site with the following text:
This site has been blocked in protest of the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) two bills which will allow the government censor the intenet. Find out more atamericancensorship.org or the video below. This website will return at 8pm.
It will also display the following video:
With the community of developers starting to take notice and doing something about it, we are bound to see an even bigger fight-back from the net community. It is however yet to be seen if the large Internet players such as Facebook and Google will jump onto the blackout bandwagon as well in a so-called “nuclear blackout” event.