As you may already be aware, today, January 18, a number of sites (including Wikipedia) are participating in a blackout to protest SOPA and PIPA – the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. A few days ago I linked to a Digital Trends article with a good description of what both bills are and what they would do if passed. The site sopastrike.com is also informative, though it’s a little overwhelmed with traffic today and may be slow. Here’s a video from Fight for the Future which is also clear and informative regarding what the bills are intended to do vs. the effect they are likely to have in reality.
It seems to be a case of “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Most can agree that online piracy is bad, and that intellectual property and copyright do and should entitle the creators of works to the proceeds from those works. “Stop online piracy” is a good goal, but SOPA will not be able to do this effectively. As is pointed out in the video, the government already has tools to regulate the internet: the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA, 1998), the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act (PRO-IP, 2007), and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (2011).
What can you do? Read about SOPA and PIPA, educate yourself, and take action. There are a number of ways, from blacking out your own website if you have one, to contacting your representatives.