As Blue Jersey readers who came to our site today have seen, we made the decision to “go dark” as part of a massive online protest against two Bills that would do great damage to internet freedom by allowing the Government to censor and block web sites that corporations don’t like. The two bills are as follows:
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA, H.R. 3261) is on the surface a bill that attempts to curb online piracy. Sadly, the proposed way it goes about doing this would devastate the online economy and the overall freedom of the web. It would particularly affect sites with heavy user generated content. Sites like Youtube, Reddit, Twitter, and others may cease to exist in their current form if this bill is passed.
The Protect IP Act (PIPA, S. 968) is SOPA’s twin in the Senate. Under current DMCA law, if a user uploads a copyrighted movie to sites like YouTube, the site isn’t held accountable so long as they provide a way to report user infringement. The user who uploaded the movie is held accountable for their actions, not the site. PIPA would change that – it would place the blame on the site itself, and would also provide a way for copyright holders to seize the site’s domain in extreme circumstances.
The reason why so many sites, including Blue Jersey, took this action today is that PIPA is scheduled for a vote in the Senate next week, on January 24, and as of now, Senator Menendez appears to be in favor of this bill, while Senator Lautenberg hasn’t given a definitive “no” for his vote..
What we are seeing as of now
This is not a partisan issue as there are members of both parties opposed to these bills. Throughout the day today, as well as to a lesser degree in the past few weeks, many members of Congress have weighed in with their views. Additionally, ProPublica has a list of where each of the NJ Congressional delegation stands on these bills, and, as noted above, Senator Menendez is in favor of these horrific bills per this list. Now, his twitter stream seems to indicate that he is potentially wavering (at least we hope).
Both Senators haven’t exactly given the warm and fuzzies with respect to PIPA, and we are hoping that they take stronger positions against censorship. For starters, you can:
- Tweet out to @SenatorMenendez and @FrankLautenberg. A sample tweet can be as simple as Stand up for the Internet, our future & #BlackoutSOPA. #PIPA and #SOPA equals censorship!
- Sign Google’s petition to tell Congress you oppose SOPA/PIPA
- Call your Senator with 1 click. That link will connect you directly – just enter your phone number
Facebook and Twitter are also great for letting your friends and followers know what to do…..
publicknowledge.org: “This Bill Seriously Screws with the Internet”
sopaopera.org: The who and why of the Congressional debate on the Stop Online Piracy (SOPA) and the PROTECT-IP Acts
Steve Blank: Why The Movie Industry Can’t Innovate and the Result is SOPA
Obama Administration Responds to We the People Petitions on SOPA and Online Piracy
Here is a sample of others within the NJ delegation and what they have been saying:
Rep. Andrews is against the bill and tweeted the following: #SOPA if enacted has the potential cripple the innovative freedoms we have come to enjoy in the information age.
Rep. LoBiondo tweeted the following: Appreciate all calls, emails, tweets from #SouthJersey residents re: #SOPA – I am STRONGLY OPPOSED & would be a NO if it came to vote as is.
Rep. Pascrell posted on Facebook and also tweeted the following: You’ve probably already noticed that many websites have gone dark today to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act. I… http://fb.me/1BPoi1sIX
Rep. Holt is against the bill and tweeted the following: #SOPA would make the internet less secure, less competitive, and — worst of all — less free. It will not have my vote. (he also posted on Facebook)
Sen. Lautenberg seems to think that changes should be made but he is a bit cryptic as to what he would do if the current bill came to a vote. He tweeted the following: The original version of #PIPA raises serious concerns & substantial changes must be made to preserve a free & open Internet.
If you have other statements, please paste them in the comments section below – and thank you for your support of Blue Jersey and internet freedom