What is SOPA?
Unfortunately it is more sinister than it first sounds. SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act. The Act is currently being debated in the US Congress and aims to clamp down on online piracy.
How will it affect me?
If you link to material that is copyrighted and not been used appropriately, or someone posts a comment on your site linking to such material, your site could be censored to “prevent American citizens from visiting sites the attorney general maintains are dedicated to infringing activities”. The legislation does provide for the right to appeal, but this must be submitted within five days and could lead to perfectly legal material being taken down to avoid lengthy (and ineffectual) appeals.
Oh, and you could also receive a prison sentence if you post copyrighted materials. Nice, eh?
Who supports the bill?
Surprise, surprise, the usual suspects: News Corporation, Sony, Disney, Time Warner, Viacom, Philip Morris, Wal-Mart etc. Yeah, some of those names aren’t really surprising are they? And good old Rupert Murdoch has been particularly vocal in his support of the bill:
Who opposes the bill?
A host of new technology companies including Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Reddit oh yeah and President Obama.
But surely it won’t affect us here in Europe?
Unfortunately the legislation would mean the US government would be able to take action against sites no matter where they are hosted. Although the European Parliament condemned the bill, this hasn’t stopped the US government pressurising states within the EU to adopt draconian measures restricting the freedom of the internet.
I don’t live in the US, what can I do?
Find out more about Sopa here:
Download this app for your Android phone:
Add the Stop SOPA plugin to your WordPress blog:
Tweet about it, share articles on Facebook about it, blog about it…do whatever you can to raise awareness of this assault on the freedom of the internet.