Tuesday, January 17, 2012

White Out

No, I'm not talking about the upcoming Megastorm about to hit Seattle, but about SOPA and PIPA.

SOPA is a bill in the US House. It stands for Stop Online Piracy Act. PIPA is a similar bill in the Senate, and is short of PROTECT IP Act, which in turn is short for Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Threat of Intellectual Property Act. I swear, there's a job in Washington for coming up with names like this to provide cover to bills like these.

I'd normally send you to Wikipedia to learn about these bills, but Wikipedia is down for the day, in protest. So are some other sites. And if you scan down this page, you'll see a whole lot of nothing (I hope - I just set the text to white against a white background). Because that's the direction these bills will take us.

These bills, despite their cute names, do not protect content creators, but rather further empower content owners, a different class of beast, and gives them greater control over the Internet you enjoy. So here's what you'll get once bills like these become law. A whole lotta nothing.

More (maybe) later,

Update: And we're back up. Future readers will wonder what this is all about, but for one day, I whited out all the body copy on my site in protest of a horrible pair of proposed laws - SOPA and PIPA (as noted above). Now, I was not alone in this - a few other sites like Wikipedia and Reddit went blank, along with a lot of personal sites. And the interesting thing was that the bulk of the sites doing this were content creators - supposedly the very people these laws were (on paper) to protect. Google gave a strong head-nod. Twitter and Facebook noted it all, but stayed open, allowing the entire 'net to compare notes.

And this thing is, it was fairly successful. A lot of congressmen came out against the bill. Some of them were the original backers. A couple admitted that they hadn't read the damned things but were assured that it would be a good thing. The president has come down on it. Not bad for a buncha nerds.

Oh, and the spokesperson for the Motion Picture Association of American, a former congress-critter himself, complained, without a sense of irony, that everyone taking their free information off the 'net was an 'abuse of power'.Like having ten films up for "best picture" isn't.

This isn't over - not by a long shot. They are already talking bout floating this bill later once the heat is off, or it showing up later under an even cuter acronym (Freedom Respecting Every Action and Knowledge). And our Supreme Court just declared that stuff out of copyright can regrow its copyright (though not necessarily under the original owners). There's going to be a lot more of this going on as we go forward. But for the moment, this has to go down as a win.

More (definitely) later