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Why SOPA and PIPA Matter More Today Than They Did Yesterday

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Yesterday, sites like Wikipedia, Reddit, and Craigslist blacked out in protest of SOPA and PIPA, two anti-piracy bills that would cause tons of Internet censorship. Countless blogs also joined the protest, and major sites like Google and Pinterest put up notices about the bills, even though they didn’t shut down completely.

Today, the Internet is, for the most part, back to normal. I’m still seeing a few tweets here and there about SOPA and PIPA,and a few sites are still alerting users/readers, but it’s back to business as usual for most people.

I have to be honest. That scares me.

SOPA and PIPA protests are more important today than they were yesterday. I saw many reports (mostly in mainstream media, like on the news) saying that the SOPA/PIPA protest yesterday was a giant failure. While I don’t believe that’s true, I do think that getting angry on Twitter and Facebook for a day doesn’t really matter. What matters is the follow through.

BlogWorld Expo is a conference for content creators. Last night, we held a Twitter chat to talk about SOPA and PIPA and one of the points brought up by Curtis Silver is that it is our responsibility, as content creators, to make sure this issue continues to stay on people’s minds. Others made similar points and they’re absolutely right – yesterday, several members of Senate pulled their support, but PIPA could still pass next week and SOPA could as well next month. We need to continue to voice our opinions against these bills.

Have you called your state’s elected officials? Tell them that you will not vote for anyone supporting SOPA or PIPA. Even an email or hand-written letter helps get your voice heard. Believe it or not, these politicians do listen to the people they represent because – surprise surprise – they want to get reelected. By saying you won’t vote for them, you’re threatening their jobs.

If you’re a content creator online, don’t let your readers/listeners/viewers forget how important SOPA and PIPA are. And no matter who you are, continue sharing this information on social media. Yesterday was only a battle. Let’s make it our goal to win the war.

Could Facebook Shut Down? Understanding SOPA and PIPA

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If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our video explaining what SOPA and PIPA are and why you should care about these bills:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zCNa1XSwdw[/youtube]

Pass the video on to all of your friends so we can fight SOPA/PIPA together! Even if you aren’t from the United States, these potential laws affect you; they affect every Internet user.

Please head to http://www.blogworld.com/SOPA to find out more about how you can join the fight against SOPA/PIPA and join us on Twitter this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012 at 9 PM EST for #bwechat, where we’ll be talking about these bills and what they mean to you.

25 Brilliant Bloggers Talk about SOPA

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: SOPA

SOPA has been causing a stir in the new media industry since the day it was introduced. I’ve written about why SOPA scares me (and should scare you too), and thanks to domain name owners boycotting GoDaddy, we’ve already made a difference! The bill is still likely to pass, though, so we have more work to do. A group of major players online including Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and Google have said they’re considering a black out – that’s how big of a deal this is.

For today’s Brilliant Bloggers, I wanted to highlight posts from other bloggers who are also talking about SOPA. This is a super important issue, so if you aren’t familiar with what SOPA is and what it means to you (and to anyone who uses the Internet), take some time to check out these posts.

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

How SOPA/PIPA Can Affect You by Jamal Jackson from 1stwebdesigner

First things things first; before you can start reading all the brilliant opinions out there about SOPA, it’s important to understand exactly what SOPA and PIPA are and what they mean for you as a blogger, a social media profession, and even a consumer. This post by Jamal Jackson from 1stwebdesigner is a great place to start, since he breaks down the proposed laws into very easy-to-understand terms. It’s a long post, but trust me: it’s worth reading and understanding this. Everyone online, from those who use it for work every day to those who just log in to check their Facebook occasionally, is affected by SOPA and PIPA. It’s even important if you’re not from the United States. Writes Jamal,

The U.S. government officials and private corporations aren’t only concerned about how these bills will work out in America, they are hoping that they will have the influence to get other nations to follow suit with these acts passing. That means if these acts pass, then the next country this could be coming toward may be yours.

You can find more from Jamal at Five Alarm Interactive and follow him on Twitter @5alarmint.

SOPA, GoDaddy and the Bottom-Up Democracy (or Mob Rule) of the Web by John Paul Titlow at Read Write Web

Once you understand what SOPA is and how it can affect you, check out this post by John Paul Titlow on Read Write Web. He talks about the recent “mob” mentality that helped convince GoDaddy and other companies to stop supporting SOPA – and he takes a closer look as to whether or not this was a good thing. Undoubtedly, GoDaddy’s change of heart was good for those opposing SOPA, but is mob mentality on the Internet potentially harmful? He writes,

To be sure, some of what goes on amongst the Reddit is questionable and not every member of that particular community has their facts straight at all times. But they’re far from the only player in these scenarios, even if they do often provide a solid launch pad for digital protest campaigns. What’s more remarkable is what the architecture of the Web generally, as well as its social tools, are beginning – yes, only beginning – to enable.

Check out the full post on Read Write Web, and then follow John Paul on Twitter @johnpaul. You can also find out more about him at JohnPaulTitlow.com.

Preparedness In a Post-SOPA World by Chris Richardson at WebProNews

One of the most infuriating things about SOPA is that it isn’t going to actually cut down on piracy, which is the whole goal of the bill, according to those supporting it. People are already finding ways to work around the censorship, should the bill pass. In this post, which is one of many great SOPA posts on WebProNews, Chris Richardson posts an entire list of IP addresses that you can use to access some of your favorite sites in case the top-level domains aren’t working anymore. The list isn’t in and of itself as important as actually understanding why this kind of thing pretty much negates the entire point of SOPA and just makes things more difficult to everyone online, whether you’re a pirate or a legitimate business owner. Writes Chris,

Hopefully, the Louis Pasteur quote subtitling this article [ “Fortune favors a prepared mind”] motivates you enough to prepare yourself for a post-SOPA world, one where the Internet, as we know it, is rendered into a smoldering ruin that’s overtly governed by the copyright gatekeepers. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but then again, being prepared for a potentially real future could make the transition to a SOPA-controlled Internet much easier to navigate.

You can find more from Chris by adding him to your circles on Google+.

BONUS BRILLIANT BLOGGER: It’s a very long and in-depth post, but if you have time to read it, Don’t Break the Internet at the Stanford Law Review is one of the best explanations of SOPA out there, in my opinion. Check it out!

Even More Brilliant Advice:

  1. 25 Things You Need To Know About SOPA by David Pegg (@iamdpegg)
  2. Boycotting SOPA Supporters is All or Nothing by Kelly Clay (@kellyhclay)
  3. Coders are Already Finding Ways Around SOPA Censorship by Adam Clark Estes (@adamclarkestes)
  4. Google’s SOPA press stunt: Can we truly hold them liable? by Charlie Osborne (@ZDNetCharlie)
  5. Net Artists Warned Us About SOPA 15 Years Ago by Will Brand (@wrbrand)
  6. No SOPA for You: This Chrome Extension Shows You Who Is Pro-SOPA as You Browse by Adrianne Jeffries (@adrjeffries)
  7. Online Piracy and SOPA: Beware of Unintended Consequences by James Gattuso
  8. Piracy is not a problem; SOPA is not a solution by Terry Hancock (@TerryHancock1)
  9. Public Service Announcement: Writers, Censorship, and SOPA by Melissa Donovan (@melissadonovan)
  10. SOPA: All Your Internets Belong to US by Michael Geist (@mgeist)
  11. SOPA: An Unfair Advantage for GoDaddy, but Reddit and Facebook are Safe by Brad McCarty (@BradMcCarty)
  12. SOPA, Freedom, and the Invisible War by John Biggs (@johnbiggs)
  13. SOPA is the end of us, say bloggers by Tim Mak (@timkmak)
  14. SOPA isn’t the Answer to Our Problems byDaniel Herzig (@techblitznews)
  15. SOPA, Middlemen and Freedom of Art by Mark Birch (@marksbirch)
  16. SOPA’s most frightening flaw is the future it predicts by Omar El Akkad
  17. URGENT: SOPA will Kill Your Mom Blog and WAHM Business by Linsey Knerl (@lknerl)
  18. What Journalists Need to Know about SOPA by Tracie Powell (@tmpowell)
  19. Why is SOPA a big problem for everyone? Just ask DaJaz1.com by Ken Priore (@priorelaw)
  20. Why We Must Stop SOPA by End of the American Dream
  21. “Wow, I had no clue SOPA was such a bad idea…” by Rosie Siman (@rosiesiman)

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about SOPA? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link!

Next Week’s Topic: Pinterest

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Should We Forgive GoDaddy?

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SOPA has sure made a mess of things, hasn’t it?

No company knows that better than GoDaddy. When the list of SOPA supporters came out, Internet users everywhere cried to users to boycott GoDaddy, moving hosting and domain name registration to other companies. A lot of people did. Last Friday, when this story was getting top billing on tech sites everywhere, over 21,000 domain names were moved to other companies. That hasn’t stopped people from registering thousands of new domain names.

Bob Parsons, CEO of GoDaddy - worthy of our forgiveness?

The net loss for the day was only 1,020, which is pretty insignificant considering that they manage over 50 million domain names.

Yesterday, the specific day when people were encouraged to move their domain names, the boycott fizzled completely. The company actually had a net gain of over 20,000 names, though they have admitted a spike in transfer rates.

The boycott has made a difference. A few days ago, GoDaddy released a statement saying that they no longer support SOPA. Then, more recently, the company released a statement saying that not only were they no longer supporting the bill, but they now directly oppose it. The lack of support for transferring names yesterday can be attributed to both GoDaddy’s changing stance on the issue and Reddit’s new focus on actual politicians. (Reddit is where the call for a GoDaddy boycott originally started.)

So with all of that said, is it time for the blogging community to forgive GoDaddy?

This blogger says yes.

I personally have domain names registered and hosted with two different companies – GoDaddy and HostGator. I was poised to switch everything to HostGator, but when GoDaddy changed their position and decided to oppose SOPA, I decided to keep my account. For now.

Finish Your Vegetables, GoDaddy!

In my opinion, it sends the wrong message to boycott the company after they’ve given in to consumer demands. I’ve even seen people making fun of GoDaddy for changing their position so quickly to appease customers. Um…isn’t that what we wanted? What, did you want a more difficult fight?

The whole point of a boycott is to change what a company is doing. So if the company makes the changes you want and you still boycott, it sends the message that it doesn’t matter whether a company listens to its consumers or not. Next time, they won’t bother changing because it won’t make a difference anyway.

A good analogy is a kid who won’t finish his dinner. You tell the child, “Because you haven’t eaten the rest of your peas, you aren’t getting any cake for dessert.” If the child clears his plate, you have to give him the cake. That was the implied deal. You can’t really say, “Well, originally, you decided not to finish your dinner, so you still aren’t getting cake, even though you changed your mind.” Well, I mean, you can, but good luck getting the kid to eat his dinner tomorrow. You’ve conditioned him to think that it doesn’t matter what he does; you’re going to withhold cake if you feel like it.

Why Are You Anti-GoDaddy?

There’s no shortage of reasons to dislike GoDaddy. If you decide to leave because of the dead animal debacle, do it. If you object to their racy ads, transfer your names. If you believe the company can’t be trusted to make good decisions in the future, close your account. These are all good reasons to leave – for some people.

But if your reason for leaving was to boycott the company’s support of SOPA, I think you should stay – or even consider moving back if you already transferred. The boycott worked, and we want to send the right message – that if we boycott you and you change, we’ll stop boycotting. It’s time to forgive and move on to find other ways to make a different in the fight against SOPA. A lot of other companies and politicians still support the bill, and we need to at least try to change their minds.

A final warning to GoDaddy, though: the Internet might forgive, but we never forget. You’re on probation.

Picture via Parsonsrep at Wikimedia Commons.

Corporate Supporters Back Away from SOPA

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After the official list of SOPA supporters was published and a post on Reddit about GoDaddy supporting SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) created a PR nightmare for the company, it looks like the list of corporate supporters is getting shorter.

For those of you not familiar with the SOPA and GoDaddy debacle, here’s the short story.

After GoDaddy showed up on the list of SOPA supporters, a single post on Reddit asking people to move their domain names elsewhere, caused GoDaddy to withdraw their support. On December 23rd, GoDaddy made the announcement:

“Go Daddy is no longer supporting SOPA, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” currently working its way through U.S. Congress.

“Fighting online piracy is of the utmost importance, which is why Go Daddy has been working to help craft revisions to this legislation – but we can clearly do better,” Warren Adelman, Go Daddy’s newly appointed CEO, said. “It’s very important that all Internet stakeholders work together on this. Getting it right is worth the wait. Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it.”

You can read their entire letter here.

GoDaddy isn’t the only company speaking out and asking to be removed from the SOPA list of supporters. Law firms and companies who were listed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as SOPA supporters are not only asking to be taken off the list, but are also saying they have no idea how they ended up on it in the first place.

One company’s message on Twitter was “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet!”

Does it look like to you SOPA and its “corporate supporters” is crumbling before our very eyes?

A Huge List of Companies Supporting SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act)

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Allison recently wrote about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and why it scares her. For those of you not familiar with SOPA, it’s a new legislation in the United States that is seeking to punish people for posting pirated content.

You can read Alli’s entire post on SOPA and how there are loopholes, that in her opinion will get abused, here. Some are calling this the worst thing to ever happen to the internet.

Congress published a list of companies who are supporting SOPA, among the list are Walt Disney, Marvel, CBS, ESPN, Viacom and VISA…just to name a few.

Here is the entire list of companies supporting SOPA. Gizmodo has published this list, along with ways to contact each company, if you so desire to tell them how you feel about this new legislation.

SOPA Supporters

How do you feel about SOPA? Is it dangerous and ridiculous or necessary?

Why SOPA Scares the You-Know-What Out of Me

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For the past few weeks, and especially over the past few days, everyone is talking about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), new legislation in the United States that seeks to punish people for posting pirated content. I didn’t pay much attention at first. The name sounds nice, after all. I don’t support illegal downloading, and I certainly don’t want people illegally distributing the content I create. So my first impression, when I started seeing people tweeting about it, was that people were mad that they’d have to pay for things they should have been buying in the first place.

Today, I had coffee with Thursday Bram. She was in town (I live in the Washington, D.C. area) to hear Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, speak to the Young Entrepreneur Council – and he was in town first and foremost to speak out against SOPA. So I thought I better come home and actually read about the legislation, to see what the big deal was.

Holy cannoli. I almost had to change my pants. This video does a good job, in my opinion, of outlining the legislation and its problems:

[vimeo]http://www.vimeo.com/31100268[/vimeo]

Let me preface what I’m about to say with this: I’m not a lawyer and I normally don’t get super political. So if you believe I’m thinking about this the wrong way or don’t correctly understand what I’ve read about SOPA, please leave a comment telling me that. This is just how I’m interpreting things, and it is giving me an upset stomach, so I’d love to be wrong.

If passed, this legislation will scare people from sharing any link or user-created content at all because if the government (and those controlling the government though lobbyists) doesn’t like it, you can be shut down. I’m reminded of futuristic dystopian works of fiction like V for Vendetta and 1984, where government controls the message at all times. That might sound a little dramatic, but those type of imagined futures don’t happen overnight. They happen bit by bit, starting with legislation that seems like it’s meant to protect us (or so we’re led to believe). Legislation like SOPA.

Basically, what SOPA does is create a way for content creators (anyone from a large movie studio to an individual artist) to fight piracy, which is a good thing. But it also creates tons of loopholes for content creators to shut down anything they don’t like or understand that they feel infringes on their rights. We’re trusting people – people who have a lot of money at stake – to ignore these loopholes. It’s like putting a big chocolate chip cookie and some carrots in front of a three-year-old and saying, “Honey, we trust you to only eat the carrots while I’m in the other room.” Yeah right.

The loopholes in this legislation will get abused. That’s a guarantee. They’re too tempting.

And not just that, but frankly, a lot of the people in charge of the government and even businesses don’t really use the Internet. They have interns who answer their emails and support staff who update their websites. We’re putting our faith to make good decisions about our industry in the hands of people who have no clue what this industry is about. That’s terrifying.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is supposed to protect us. Its “safe harbor” clauses give websites the chance to fix problems before being sued. Websites who make an effort to discourage copyright shenanigans don’t have to worry about getting being blacklisted. Essentially, if you try to do the right thing, you’re given the benefit of the doubt.

SOPA doesn’t give you a second chance. I’m not advocating that a piracy site should get one, but I am advocating that a social sharing site, including forums, blogs that allow comments, social media networks, bookmarking sites, and so forth be given the chance to rectify any infringement problems, rather than just being shut down because a reader/user/member/etc. posted something that a content creator doesn’t like. This is the kind of government blacklisting we’re seeing in places like China. That scares me.

Worse yet is the vast amount of gray area when it comes to infringement. SOPA will squash creativity like song mash-ups, spoofs, covers by amateurs, and more. Even stuff that is technically allowed by law could be at risk because people will be scared. Today, they’re taking down videos of someone covering a pop song. Tomorrow, they’re showing up at the small-town bar we’re you’re singing karaoke. Like I said, complete government control doesn’t happen overnight. Baby steps lead us down that path, a path where free speech is no longer allowed as we know it.

And to take things a step further…what about opinion pieces like I’m writing right now? It’s a leap, but if SOPA passes, could someone in the future read this post and categorize it as content that promotes piracy just because I disagree with an anti-piracy bill? Okay, yes, that’s quite a leap, but when writing this, I’ve been very careful to say multiple times that I don’t support piracy, just in case. Baby steps.

Let me not forget to mention how ridiculous the penalties are for someone suspected of promoting piracy in any way. A content creator can completely cut you off financially in as little as five days, which is not enough time for most people to defend themselves. You could even go to jail.

That’s right – jail. Up to five years. Because I posted a link to a YouTube video that uses background music without permission. Because that seems much more reasonable than just asking that the video be removed. Cue the black hood and handcuffs as I’m being dragged away by men in suits and sunglasses.

He's probably not a *real* pirate, right? Let's send him to jail just in case.

SOPA means that anyone who owns a website or creates any kind of online profile has to walk on eggshells. Part of the problem is that this legislation is so open to interpretation, that even if you aren’t doing anything wrong but just look like you might be doing something wrong, you could be at risk. Guilty until proven innocent is not okay in my book. There are a lot of innocent people out there who could get unjustly accused.

This legislation could even affect what you send via email, from what I understand. That requires a heck of a lot more email monitoring than I’m comfortable with. I’m not naive enough to think that something I send via email has no chance of getting read by anyone else, but I am un-paranoid-y (that’s a technical term because I can’t think of a better word) enough to think that right now, people don’t have a reason to care about my emails, so they probably don’t get read by “the man.” Under SOPA, email providers will have to care, and if you’re sending something that looks like an illegal link, the black hoods will come out again.

Up until now, I’ve been pretty outlandish with some of my what-ifs, but something that is very real and that absolutely will happen if SOPA is passed is that really cool start-ups won’t have a chance to succeed simply because they don’t have the manpower to fight lawsuits or police what users are creating to the high standards that will be legally required. Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, GOOGLE for crying out loud – these are all companies that couldn’t have happened if SOPA had passed before they were founded. People out there are wondrously creative and smart, and we’re going to miss out on a lot of really cool stuff because it will be too hard for these companies to gain any traction under SOPA. Take a moment to think of the crazy number of jobs that won’t be created. Sounds really awesome for the economy, right? Even some big-name companies might call it quits if it because too cost-intensive to comply.

A world without Twitter? I think I have to change my pants again.

And you know what? SOPA has all these bad effects WITHOUT STOPPING PIRATES. Even if every single pirate safe haven online gets shut down, people will find a way to get what they want if they don’t have the money for it. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to stop piracy, plagiarism, and general mean-spirited mischief online. It just means what we need to do so in a way that doesn’t blanket-punish all the good kids in class because one student was talking during nap time.

Get out there and write to your congressmen and women. Blog about it. Support companies speaking out against it. Educate people who are, like me, in need of education about the topic. Let it be known, even if it passes, that you don’t agree.

My name is Allison Boyer, and while I don’t speak for the rest of the staff here at BlogWorld, personally, I don’t agree.

I think I’ve ranted long enough, so now I want to hear your opinions. Has SOPA made you soil your undergarments? What are you doing about it? What do you think would be a better answer to online piracy?

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