Many companies are blacking out their sites in an effort to fight the Protect IP (PIPA)/SOPA Act that's under review here in the United States. Rather than climbing onboard the wagon and shutting down my site, I thought it would be more constructive to share my reaction with you.
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This might change.
Today, we had a meeting with our local representatives in Indiana to discuss our concerns with the Protect IP act and SOPA. While the leaders were responsive, they didn't say whether or not our representative was supporting the bill. Here's some additional information – but please read my notes below with my concerns.
As far as our representatives are concerned, the DNS blocking has been overstated and requires a third party to determine whether or not to actually block the site. The verbiage leans in the direction that the only sites that could get blocked are foreign sites. I'm not an attorney, so I'm not sure if that's true or not.
What can happen instantaneously, without due process, is that a site that is deemed as supporting copyright infringement could be removed from search engines as well as all means of advertising revenue blocked. This could happen without notice and without the ability for a site to defend itself. Our search engine visits and our revenue are the lifeblood that allow this blog to continue expanding. In other words, if a corporation heavy on legal savvy who wishes to go to war with the content we share… our blog could be strangled to death with no recourse.
I was reassured on the phone that this was highly unlikely, that we'd be able to get representation and fight the issue. Here's the problem… that takes time and money that I don't have as a small business. So, rather than fight, it would be best for me to fold the site and go back and work for a big company. That's frightening.
Washington is a city full of attorneys. They often don't remember that those of us without the legal resources don't get to defend ourselves adequately. This, in my opinion, is what the Protect IP and SOPA Acts have been written to do. They are a tool of a dying industry… a last gasp to try to prevent the inevitable. The analogy I provided was a storekeeper who refused to put locks on their door. Since they can't figure out how to protect themselves, they're now asking the government to guard it for them.
I'm not writing this simply from a single viewpoint of a blogger. We provide content as well with the expectation that our copyright be respected. At times it hasn't been and I've taken action. I've been able to block sites, report them to advertising systems, and have other companies – like stock photo companies – with deeper pockets go after them. That means little ol' Doug has been able to thwart infringement and fight it without the need of the government to get involved. Of course, this isn't about my intellectual property though – it's about the movie and record industry deteriorating profits.
It's tragic. And it's unfortunate that our political leaders are actually thinking about doing this. Even more tragic is that a democratic leader, Chris Dodd, is now the leader of this force that will crush the very core feature of the Internet – the ability to share information freely. This is a bill that will further empower those with deep pockets… and remove the opportunity from the powerless. It will impact every user on the Internet, including you.
Please take the time to read the fine details and understand how it will impact you, your content, and your business. You need not be American, the Internet doesn't have borders we can put forces on… and those outside the United States are at greater risk than we are. Read more at Stop American Censorship.