As we near the date that congress will begin to debate the Stop Online Piracy Act, some major Internet players are considering taking some extreme measures to register their anger over the proposed legislation. Companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook are threatening to actually go dark for a day.
You can read more about SOPA in this great post by MomCrunch’s Ria Sharon, but the lowdown is this: in a case of possible government overstepping (and definitely a case of shortsightedness), a proposed bill that claims it’s designed to protect against “rogue foreign websites” that infringe on copyright will actually create a hot mess of confusion for most if not all sites that offer user-generated content.
…the definitions are ridiculously broad. Under SOPA, you can be found “dedicated to the theft of US property” if the core functionality of your site “enables or facilitates” infringement. The core functionality of nearly every internet website that involves user generated content enables and facilitates infringement. The entire internet itself enables or facilitates infringement. Email enables or facilitates infringement. They have significant non-infringing uses as well, but the definition leaves that out entirely.
Extreme Tech claims that the possible date for going dark is January 23rd, the date before the congressional debate. It’s going to be really rough day for us internet junkies if the list of folks that Extreme Tech claims will be going dark actually comes to pass; I mean no Google, Facebook, Ebay, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and (personal gasp!) Twitter, just to mention a few? Perish the thought.
What do you think? Is this the best way for these businesses and websites to let congress (and the world) know how SOPA could impact them?