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What Is SOPA? What Is PIPA? Why Are Sights Blacking Out?

So you may have noticed several of your favorite blogs ( Miss Jia, Concrete Loop) and some of your favorite websites (Tumblr, Craigslist) have all shutdown for the day with a protest page that says Stop SOPA. But do you even know what SOPA is, or PIPA, or why so many websites are protesting?

SOPA is a bill created in Congress, and PIPA is a bill drafted in the Senate,  to stop the piracy of US goods abroad. In other words, the bills are designed to stop people in other countries from selling bootleg American products for profit like prescription drugs, “Polo” Shirts, Toy Story 3 DVDs, or any reproduction of  illegal content. Sounds good, right? NOPE! The problem is that SOPA as written will take away due process, and give the government too much power to shut down suspected websites without a trial or prior knowledge.

So if your site is suspected of illegal activity, the government, and the person filing the complaint can get a court order to have your site shutdown or your links removed from Google, without your knowledge or consent. That’s good if you’re a bad guy in Sri Lanka illegally selling skin bleaching cream on the internet that causes cancer, but that’s bad if you’re a legitimate website wrongfully accused of piracy. Since this is America, we believe in due process, meaning you are innocent until proven guilty and you should have a chance to prove your innocence in a court of law before any actions against your privacy is revoked. The government should not have the power to take your property without due process, yet this bill will allow the government to do just that, if they so choose.

In order to protect our Constitutional rights to property and free speech, we have to fight this bill, even if SOPA‘s and PIPA‘s demise, protects some really bad people. Why? BECAUSE we do not know when a really good site, that is at odds with the government politically, will be shutdown under this law as well. So in order to not give the US government and the Justice Department that much power over American citizens, many sites are protesting.

The people (lobbyists) who are really driving this bill are people in the music and movie industry who do not want you getting those free downloads. People like Ralph Lauren and Tiffany & Co whose brands are heavily bootlegged, and pharmaceutical companies losing money to illegal generic drugs from other countries. We are not unsympathetic to these business, many of us are victims as well, but the government should not have the right to shutdown websites without conclusive proof or a fair trial.

There has to be a better way to target these pirates abroad without taking away rights of Americans, or policing the internet. The internet has some bad websites, but for the most part it’s the only freedom many people have. Certainly we do not want government agencies involved and crippling free speech. Therefore, many websites are protesting by blacking out their sites. That way, we can imagine a world where the government controls what we can and cannot do on the internet. Imagine no Google, no Amazon or no Facebook. Any of your favorite websites can be shutdown in a blink of eye, and we do not want to live with that possibility.

Hopefully, you now understand more about SOPA, and why people are protesting. BUT there is one more thing!!! What can you do to keep the internet free from this bill? CLICK  HERE and send a quick note to your congressman and urge them to vote NO on SOPA.

I didn’t want to black out the site without people knowing what’s going on. So there will be no new posts today, and we will resume out regular blogging tomorrow. Any money generated today will be donated to the Stephen Colbert’s and Jon Stweart’s Super PAC, Making A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow (The Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Super Pac). Enjoy your day!


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