Chances are as you do your internet rounds this morning, you’ve run up against at least one site that is participating in the internet blackout currently going on right now.
If a site that’s participating hasn’t gone completely dark, like Wikipedia, then perhaps it is obscured entirely or in part by a “this site has been blocked by SOPA/PIPA” graphic. Perhaps one of your favorite Facebook pages has gone offline for the day in solidarity. We have remained online to bring you news- which today largely centers around these damaging bills and the havoc they could cause worldwide- but the Inquisitr is one of many smaller sites that struggle with far less dangerous laws in the same vein every day.
Sure, we’re no Wikipedia. Every day, we try to find the hottest stories, pics, videos and gossip across many categories to streamline your web experience. But what any site like the Inquisitr can tell you is that even under the “piracy” laws of today, smaller sites like us are threatened all the time by those who seek to intimidate or otherwise silence web voices.
Sometimes it’s confusion under what constitutes fair use- we’ve had massive media companies who know the law well enough to know they’re wrong threaten suit under information we’ve posted that is legal. And in the past, we have removed things it’s perfectly legal to use because we can’t always go up against a massive entertainment company, movie studio or publisher and keep bringing you fresh content.
Other times it’s the same provisions used because someone doesn’t like what we have to say. And even if we believe strongly in the First Amendment, we don’t always have the ability to defend ourselves against massive legal action. What you need to know is that this happens all the time. Companies already have legal protection against piracy, and SOPA and PIPA do nothing constructive in this regard.
What SOPA and PIPA do do, however, is place a lot of the onus to prove innocence on the accused party. You see where this is going. In a future where SOPA and PIPA has passed, such a great number of the sites you enjoy every day could be removed instantly- blocked from search engines and yanked by their hosts- without due process. Like gossip? Any site that carries any gossip will be a massive target because the powerful people being gossiped about may not like what is being said.
Sites like Reddit? They would be deluged by potential “copyright owners,” or people with an interest in removing content from the web for any reason. Facebook is a “haven” for sharing potentially copyrighted material, and forget uploading a karaoke clip to YouTube. You’d be a felon. And us? We would almost certainly fall prey to an errant copyright claim or other spurious allegation rapidly because there is no disincentive for anyone who disagrees with something we might say. For the Inquisitr and similar sites, simply a mix of content from various sources makes us a massive target.
Look, no one likes the idea of movie-makers out of work or artists deprived of revenue by counterfeited SpongeBob books or figurines. But SOPA and PIPA are not the answer. It’s like burning a city down because a suspected criminal is hiding in a house somewhere in that city. It kills opportunities for many in the pursuit of protecting profits for the few.
If you love the internet- not just the Inquisitr- and you want to protect it, today is the best time to contact your local lawmaker and vociferously oppose SOPA and PIPA. We deserve better, and if these dangerous bills ever pass, how will we even organize to fight them?
If you wish to contact your representative to voice your dissent, go over to Wikipedia. The current site has a one-step way to get all the information you need to make a quick phone call and add to the growing cry to save the internet. Step up before it’s too late!