Tuesday, January 17, 2012


So I've been reading and hearing a lot about the SOPA bill coming up before Congress lately.  I didn't really pay much attention until I saw where Wikipedia may go dark on Wednesday to protest the bill.  I must confess my first thought was, "Yippee!  a good day to teach databases!!" but then I decided I really needed to do some looking into this topic.  What I've found is a bit disturbing.

First off, the bill is being sponsored by Congressman Lamar Smith from my area of Texas.  On the surface if I understand it correctly, the bill would "Order internet service providers to alter their DNS servers from resolving the domain names of websites in foreign countries that host illegal copies of videos, songs, and photos" (from the SOPA bill section 102).  Basically it seems to me that the government would have the power to go after foreign websites that host copyrighted/ pirated material.  In the US there are means to stop such pirating but this bill would give the US the power to stop foreign providers.  But in the process, the hosting sites in the US could be prosecuted or shut down. 

So that explains why Wikipedia, Twitter, Youtube and such are all up in arms about this.  Even if, in writing my blog, I refer to a site that has copyrighted material on it, I could be liable--whether I knew about the other site or not.  And I think that's the part that scares people.  It seems to me the Hollywood entertainment establishment is wanting to put censorship capabilties on foreign providers.  And that goes against all the Internet has been since it was established.

Now I have referred to the Internet as a gigantic mess--a library with all the books strewn all over the floor is my favorite description. And the problem with the easily copyrighted material is a big one.  But to pass this bill is basically throwing the baby out with the bath water--overkill in the worst way.

The most recent article I found said the vote has been tabled in Congress for now. Let's hope some cooler heads prevail and Congress takes a long look at this one before they rush to pass it.

This video from Wordpress is a good explanation of the whole bill if you need a visual.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.


  1. Thank you for helping to raise awareness of this very important issue. The problem with SOPA and PIPA is that they would make it VERY easy for ISPs to overreact and start blocking sites right and left - not just major sites but blogs and ecommerce businesses as well.

    It also makes it very easy for an online business to lose their ability to accept payments or even lose the money they have in existing payment gateways like PayPal because one person lodges a complaint. The potential for abuse by unethical competitors intentionally taking down other sites - especially during critical sales periods such as the best weeks during the holidays - is HUGE.

    We can not make it easy for people to be targeted by anyone - be considered guilty without any opportunity to defend themselves and provide them little recourse.

    Taking a business site offline and tying up their operating funds and ability to accept payments - many times for six months or forever - will destroy people financially.

    These laws can also be used to silence dissenting opinions and take away the independent platforms of bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers. This is making censorship easy - and we simply must continually guard against that.

    Major sites are actively censoring. We need to spread the word about how that is being done while we still can and make sure we scream loudly any time sites are taken down until they are restored.

    The masses will rarely notice and if they do will not know what to do so it is up to social media savvy bloggers to raise awareness.

    I have additional information about SOPA and PIPA on the blog I linked to in this comment.

  2. Thanks for the addtional information. While it looks like right now the bill is being delayed, we need to keep abreast of new developements.