By now you should have heard or read about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act). On Wednesday January 18th, there will be a hearing about this web-crippling law in Congress. And although you might have heard that some politicians halted their support, the bill is NOT cancelled. Neither is it Senate’s equivalent, called PIPA.
One of the many bad effects of these laws is that a webmaster is going to be responsible for ANY content on his site – including comments! So, one comment receiving a complaint of an Intellectual Property law violation might bring down a complete website! Linking to your home-made video that has a song of your favorite artist then becomes a double offense: not only the song is used “illegally” (even if you use it for personal entertainment only), but linking to it from any site (or in a comment) endangers the site as well – not just that one page, but all pages (which can be 1.000’s pages for news-sites etc.). As a webmaster you would have 5 days to remove the link/comment, otherwise your site goes down – and we all know how difficult it is going to be to get it up and running again – lots of paperwork for sure and perhaps a ticket? Three tickets and you’re out?
As a webmaster it is almost impossible to watch all comments: even here on DCC it takes some effort already – and this site only has a couple of hundred pages so far. For larger sites it means either dedicating staff to comments only or just disable commenting – effectively crippling the option to voice our opinions (how misinformed, poorly spelled or vulgar they may be). Also, webmasters tend to fall ill for several days – or longer. Or they make a business trip. Or even holiday… Just disabling comments as the risk is too great? “Thanks to SOPA you can not comment until the end of next week.” That kills our options for discussions, adding information, exchange of ideas etc.
That is only one tiny aspect of SOPA and PIPA – one that affects you as an user of the internet. We feel that is a bad move and that is why this site is protesting SOPA – we put up a ribbon in the right corner and Wednesday this site will go dark from 8:00 am till 20:00 (EST). Just like WikiPedia and my own sites, like Troisj.com and Gerbera.org.
Below are a few links for more information:
We hope you support us to keep the Internet the free and open place that it is now!
Jacques and Alice