A bill called the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” or SOPA, has been introduced in the US Congress, and it looks like it might pass. The bill contains a variety of measures enabling the government, internet service providers, and search engines with the power to essentially “blacklist” websites – either blocking them or taking them down entirely, or just blocking them from appearing in web searches – if they are believed to contain anything considered to be “infringing” material. Now, of course we are all of us against piracy insofar as it hurts the profits or revenues of those who would otherwise benefit if one were to actually buy their product rather than getting it for free online. But, as I understand it, this SOPA law would not only take effect against actual piracy sites, but could end up shutting down Google, Facebook, YouTube.. any site that contains copyright infringing material within it.
Here is a link to a petition against the passage of SOPA. For those who wish to go further, calling or writing your Congressman (or -woman) is another hopefully effective step that can be taken; I’ve missed “American Censorship Day,” an attempt to have as many sites as possible self-censor themselves and pretend to be taken down, so as to help create further visibility for the opposition to this bill. But, hopefully, people in Congress are actually taking notice, one way or another, and might actually be influenced to change their minds. Only time will tell.
Otherwise, we could all of us be in a lot of trouble… and the Internet will never be the same again.