Fluther is a free Q&A collective that specializes in getting
fast answers from the right people. Check it out!
Fluther has a long-standing policy of not helping people commit illegal acts, and Internet piracy is certainly no exception. But a much larger problem than piracy is on the horizon: extreme censorship powered by corporate interests. And it could become perfectly legal in the very near future, right here in America.
The House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act aim to curb online piracy, but in reality will end up censoring the Internet in ways that would devastate sites with user posted content (like Fluther), and change the very nature of the Internet itself. Trying to get a handle on piracy is a legitimate concern. This is not a legitimate way to do it.
These bills shift the burden of copyright protection from the holder of the copyright (where it currently rests and rightly belongs) to sites like ours. If these measures come to pass, it would require us to be certain that none of our members ever post anything that infringes on a copyright. Not only that, but posting a link to any other site would require that we first be certain that there is not one instance of copyright infringement anywhere on that site as well! Should we miss something, Fluther could be immediately shut down, our finances frozen, and our domain name confiscated. A few rogue links could result in the swift demise of an honorable site.
It’s not all about us, though. It’s about you, too. Websites you frequent may be blocked in the US. Your email provider may be forced to censor links you send or receive. Anything you post on social networking sites will be closely monitored, and subject to censorship. Want to post a video of your toddler singing a pop song? Your distant family will probably never see the adorableness, and you might even be sued. Trying to get the word out about human rights violations by reposting videos and news articles? The world will likely never know.
There is a little bit of good news: The bills are on hold at the moment. But the corporate interests behind them won’t give up. We can’t give up, either. Take action now!
For more information, and other ways you can help, click here.
Lisa A. Noll