I usually avoid political discussions on this blog. I feel they can alienate some readers and are the quickest way to insert my mouth into my foot in the heat of passion.

But, before the U.S. congress at this moment are two bills that I care so passionately about that I had to break my rule of thumb. So consider it more like a rule of pinky or something.

SOPA and PIPA are two bills before the U.S. Congress. They seek to reduce the amount of copyright infringement that occurs on the internet. A laudable goal in my opinion–I think the people that create content should be rewarded for the efforts and innovation.

But, granting a crazy-absurd amount of power to the entertainment industry, who suffers from ginormous amounts of infringement precisely because of their inability to understand the natural rhythms of the internet and their refusal to adapt to technology as it comes about, and to the DoJ, is NOT the way to do this.

These bills would allow *anyone* who reads Mikvah Bound, *or any of the websites LINKED to this site*, to deduce that I am infringing on someone’s copyrighted content. How did they reach this conclusion? What is their proof that this is copyrighted material? Who cares.

With this knowledge of Mikvah Bound’s copyright infringement, SOPA would allow them to contact WordPress, PayPal, Facebook, and Wikipedia to notify them of my infringement. I would have five days to submit my appeal of this notification to the Courts; alternatively, some kind soul at one of the legal teams of the sites mentioned above could decide to fight the fight for me in the courts. But, seriously, what is a corporation likely to do upon notification that Mikvah Bound is infringing: block access to my site as they would be required to do under this law to avoid legal fines and action OR kindly agree to fight my fight for me. Yeah, not going to happen!

There is nothing to prevent Hollywood (or any other industry or agenda-driven agency) from attacking all sites they dislike or disagree with. These accusations do not have to be launched in a public setting, i.e. a court of law. There are no punishments for those who abuse this law’s vaguely worded language, either, should I unfairly accuse innocent websites of infringement. They’ve got those five days to defend themselves after all; it’s their own fault if the accused choose not to do so.

So I am asking you, kind readers to contact your Congressmen (assuming you live in the US. Ameri-centrism ftw!). I am asking you to learn more about this bill and would its ramifications would truly be. I am asking you to consider blacking out your own site or posting your own banner until it is voted on, January 24th.

Thank you.


2 thoughts on “SOPA

  1. Agreed, so much. It’s a violation of freedom. Here in the UK a set of laws were proposed recently, called The Digital Economy Bill, which is currently being fought by various ISPs. It hasn’t been passed yet, but it’s said that we’re not far behind.

    People forget it’s called the World Wide Web. Whatever happens in the US concerning SOPA and PIPA will in turn affect the rest of the world, seeing as US sites make up the vast majority of the internet. There’s also been a recent case, which I’m sure you’re aware of, of a British student being extradited to the US for founding the TV website TVShack (which didn’t itself host copyrighted material, it simply contained links to it).

    It’s wrong, so very wrong. I’ll be adding the banner to my blog.

  2. I’m right there with you. I fired e-mails off to all three of my congresswomen the other day (and was gratified to see that one of them withdrew her support from SOPA shortly thereafter) essentially saying, “Look, you hired me to represent American interests, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and I’m currently typing this to you from behind a firewall in China (which, by the way, appears to have done zero to combat copyright violations of any kind). How the heck am I supposed to be taken seriously when talking to Chinese people about our vaunted freedoms of speech and expression if a bill like this passes? Are you thinking this through at all?”

    Of course, I think we all know the answer to that second question.

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