Thousands of websites will stand in solidarity by blacking out their content for a day to protest a series of bills pending in Washington that would seriously curtail Internet freedom online. Our main website, smoothjazzandmore.com joins Wikipedia, Mozilla, WordPress, TwitPic, Reddit, Major League Gaming, Boing Boing and many others websites declaring their intent to go dark all day Wednesday in order to demonstrate just how damaging censorship of the Internet could be.
One bill called the “Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)” (H.R. 3261) would expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten such infringements within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement. That bill is currently stalled in Congress.
The other is called the “PROTECT IP Act (PIPA)” S. 986 would give the US government and copyright holders additional tools to curb access to “rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods”, especially those registered outside the U.S. The government would, in essence, shut down the IP address of a website suspected of having weblinks with copyrighted content. That bill will be voted on in the Senate on January 24th.
The bills have the support of the entertainment industry, some industry unions such as AFTRA and the Screen Actors Guild, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a number of record labels, to name a few.
President Obama said he would not support the bills if it came to his desk. In a statement, the president replied, “Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small.”
This is yet another attempt by the entertainment industry to cut their losses with the help of the federal government. Entertainment lobbyists have flooded Washington with millions of dollars to Congress members in order for them to pass laws that overreach the boundaries of the Constitution. It is unthinkable that a bunch of lawyers would turn the Internet into their own personal censorship pool. It’s something that would be done in China, in Iran, in North Korea, not in the United States. Until the undo influence of lobbyists is eliminated, irresponsible legislation will continue to be proposed in Washington that will further irradiate the fundamental freedoms the country enjoys.
To fight against SOPA and PIPA, contact your Congressmember and Senator in Washington.
Go to AmericanCensorship.org