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SOPA & PIPA Blackout

I wanted to give a brief non-technical explanation of why we participated in the Internet blackout in protest of SOPA & PIPA. To start, here is a great TED talk:

Under current law (DMCA), you & I are allowed to incorporate existing content into our own works so long as it falls within “fair use”. Fair use means you can use short clips from movies, short music clips from other artists, quotes from other written works, etc. without it being copyright infringement. SOPA & PIPA eliminate fair use.

Further to that, the proposed laws also make linking to web sites that contain copyright infringement (under the new definition) illegal (on the grounds of aiding and abetting copyright infringement). What that means in practical terms if SOPA & PIPA pass into law is that most existing blogs both foreign and domestic would fall into the definition of a copyright infringing website and/or intellectual property theft.

A person who has a site offering free yoga videos and instruction is technically taking revenue away from the traditional entertainment and broadcasting industry. However, most like the person running that site is making money from advertising and/or creating a customer base for one on one consultation. From an economic standpoint, the site may be eliminating a job at News Corp or one of the other media conglomerates but it is not costing the economy a job.

The media conglomerates cannot get legislators to shutdown the distribution infrastructure (the Internet), so they drafted legislation that targets the content producers (ie. you & I). If you have not already done so, I encourage you to contact your representatives to let them know that you do not want the Internet to be censored.