Have you heard the news?
There’s going to be a blackout tomorrow. An internet blackout.
For those of you who aren’t in the know, earlier this year there was a push in the House of Representatives to pass the SOPA bill (Stop Online Piracy Act). Basically, it is (Note how I say “is”) an act that would censor American internet under the guise of protecting the American entertainment industry from online piracy. So, companies could essentially slam the hammer down on websites that shared copyright material ranging from internet streaming sites to -gasp- even tumblr.
(A more detailed but still neatly succinct explanation of SOPA can be viewed here.)
But no, they can’t shut down sites like tumblr, people use it to express themselves without the gif-sets from movies and the Sherlock/Supernatural/Doctor Who/insert-fandom-here clips and AMVs!
But under SOPA they could. And probably would. And then this would probably spiral into all sorts of weird and sticky little territories; what of all those streaming sites that are located elsewhere? (Come on, I can’t be the only one who used to watch Dr. Who on a Chinese website) Could SOPA make a big stink on the international playing field as well?
So yeah, one attempt at “protecting” the film industry could spell doom to favorite websites with affects on a grander scale; because let’s face it, the internet is not just American playground.
Thus far, SOPA’s had a difficult road since its inception and release to the public. There’s been petitions, mild panic, and concern from the world wide web as the days ticked by and the bill continued to loom like a guillotine.
Then it was shelved. And the peasants rejoiced – just for a moment.
Taking the time now to show action and commitment against this bill, traffic-heavy websites such as Wikipedia, reddit, Boing Boing, and even Failblog are joining together in a scheduled blackout starting tomorrow January 18th. Small websites are also joining in on the blackout and, as pointed out by starshine, some people are avoiding using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter for 24 hours in solidarity.
Whether or not this is an affective campaign against the SOPA bill is… well it’s up in the air. Some criticize Wikipedia for participating, arguing that, as a database, it should remain neutral on the issue. But, at the very least, this organized blackout will generate the kind of publicity it needs; SOPA might have made a buzz on tumblr a few months back, but it isn’t a big concern for the general public.
Hopefully, though, this blackout will raise awareness and there won’t be a day whenour favorite sites for fandoms and geekery are slammed with a permanent ban-hammer.
Looks like Google is part of the SOPA protest after all – and there’s another neat little video to check out if you’re interested in the various ramifications SOPA would have for the internet communtiy
Annnnd now tumblr just put up a lovely new image that is informative but also allows its users to continue to use the site or participate in the blackout.