A concerned citizen of the web – SOPA? PIPA? – Blackout time

Firstly, I do not condone piracy, theft, unfair use of others work. However, I really am concerned that the gains we have made, and continue to make, in human communication online are going to be impacted by laws made in individual influential countries, like the US seeking to restrict some behaviour they regard as wrong.
There will be all sorts of political agendas at work with SOPA and PIPA in the US, but as we know country boundaries and country interests are eroded by the internet. Everything is local now. Passing laws, or attempting to that give well legally well represented organisations the power to block other “threatening” groups may seem to make sense in downloading movies, or music but the pattern does, and will apply to other areas. These laws will not stay in the areas they are intended. The vested interests of a few will have a wide reaching impact.
My personal experience in this is of the already draconian DMCA takedowns that can occur. Whilst officially working at a sports event I posted a video on youtube of the venue as part of a blog post. Somewhere one of the media partners had an intern trawling the internet for any references to the sports event and video of it. The rules being that no live play should be put on the web. In my video the venue was not even open. Yet the large company issued a DMCA takedown to google which caused the video to instantly be blocked. I did of course have the ability to try and get it back, this involved sending faxes, letters, emails etc to Youtube. It then required the other organisation to be bothered to acknowledge that. They were in the next door office, so I went and personally told them. However… the people spotting the infringements were not empowered to undo them. So it took weeks for the video to return. Now that example is just 1 simple mistake on 1 simple video but even it was a huge company with a lot of lawyers hitting one person without them. Imagine if that had led to the knock on of also crippling all my websites or my business, for however short period of time whilst an “appeal” occurred.
These control acts do nothing more than put everyone in jail cells so that no crimes are committed. It is not acceptable. Again I point out that this video incident did not matter, it was inconsequential against outing tyrants, helping the poor, improving the lives of disadvantaged people. Yet it was also not actually breaking any laws yet the law was applied. If it can happen here it can happen to anything. It will be abused, it will be misused and we will all suffer for it.
So like many much bigger sites this site will be going dark on 18th January 2012. The irony of self censoring will of course be lost on the passionate followers of this sort of restriction. We do though have do stand up against it.
There is more here in this video on what this is all about.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

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