January 19, 2012 | By:

████ Title ███ Censored ██ SOPA █

By now most of you have probably heard about the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) protests. Though it began in October 2011, some of you might have just heard about it yesterday – probably having tried and failed to access Wikipedia or Reddit’s websites due to their blackout. Did you read the message that appeared about stopping SOPA? Maybe you just grumbled to yourself about how you’re already tired of hearing about it and seeing signs and articles on Facebook, Twitter and everywhere else. Perhaps you finally did read it and became enraged like so many others have. Or if you’re still clueless about these acts, allow us to give you the low-down…

In a nutshell, if these bills are passed:
Millions of sites, including YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, and Twitter could be counted as “infringing sites dedicated to the theft of U.S. property…”
Site owners could be accused of deliberate infringement, making them “criminals” if they do not screen all content and censor or keep the copyrighted stuff out.
Lawsuits could be served left and right (and frankly, the justice system could be doing more important things with their time).
Hackers will attack Government domains, contributing to making the Internet more dangerous.
Other negative effects will add up, such as the slowing of economic growth.

Do we have your attention now? If you haven’t read the bills or at least the articles breaking them down for you (we recommend “Why SOPA Is Dangerous” by Chris Heald), we suggest you do so if you care about your Internet rights and freedom.

We’re not saying we condone online piracy by any means. In fact, Google said it best in their “End Piracy, Not Liberty” petition: “Fighting online piracy is important. The most effective way to shut down pirate websites is through targeted legislation that cuts off their funding. There’s no need to make American social networks, blogs and search engines censor the Internet or undermine the existing laws that have enabled the Web to thrive, creating millions of U.S. jobs.” We know where we stand.

Most early adopters have been protesting the SOPA and PIPA bills since the day they came out. Others, however, wait until they are influenced by a large company or large numbers (for example, when GoDaddy initially announced it was in favor of these bills and lost over 20,000 accounts, they quickly repositioned their stance). If you’re a “bandwaggoner,” that’s okay, the world needs you, but we encourage you to make sure you know what bandwagon you’re jumping on and where it’s going to take you before you jump on it.

It was said that SOPA would not be officially voted on by the House and will be “put on the shelf” to be opened for edits at a later time. President Obama claims, “While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” Recent updates say that many lawmakers have withdrawn their support of the bills, due to the massive amounts of strong online protests.

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