As you may know, there have been two bills proposed in the U.S. Congress to combat online piracy. One, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA, was proposed in the Senate; it has been tabled. The second, the “Protect Intellectual Property Act” or PIPA or PROTECT_IP, remains under consideration in the House and will come up for a vote later this month.
This is a bad piece of legislation. As written, it fails to create tools that will meet its goals and it creates a too-easy way for anyone to block websites, effectively creating a powerful form of censorship. Even the White House opposes it.
The video below eloquently explains what the bill intends to do, why it fails, and why it would be a terrible thing for the Internet and society.
A number of websites, including Wikipedia and Reddit, will be protesting this bill on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 by going dark — that is, by taking their content completely offline.
Big Big Design will be joining this protest in a modified form: When you visit this site on Wednesday, you’ll see the screen in the image above. You can click anywhere to move ahead and access the site, but I hope that people will also click the information links provided to learn more about these proposed bills and how they will affect us all. I’ll be doing the same with my personal blog (My Brilliant Mistakes), Pittsburgh Bloggers, and other sites we run.
If you have a WordPress site, you can install a plugin that will blackout your site the same way. Click here to see it in action, and to find a link to the plugin download.
Big Big Web clients can activate this plugin on their sites — it’s available right now. We’ll also install and activate the plugin for any Big Big Design client free of charge. Just send me an email.
There’s also a Facebook protest planned.
I hope you’ll join me in protesting the legislation via your website or Facebook, contacting your Congressperson to express your views, or telling everyone you know what’s going on and why they should care.