SOPA Blackout Day – Why SOPA Needs to be Stopped

by Sal on January 18, 2012

in Law,Politics,Tyranny

Stop SOPA!

Today is SOPA Blackout day.  Hundreds of sites across the Internet, including sites such as WordPress.com and Wikipedia, have shut down in protest of a little known bill making its way through Congress known as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act).  Other sites, such as Google, are providing information about SOPA on their homepages.  So what is SOPA (and it’s companion bill in the Senate, PIPA), and why is it a bad idea?

It’s not often that you get a bill that completely defies party affiliation and has both support and opposition from both sides of the political spectrum.  Supporters of SOPA and PIPA include such ideologically opposed legislators as Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), as well as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).  Opponents of the bill are equally as ideologically opposed:  Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) join Re. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) in opposition.  Clearly, this defies normal conventions.

SOPA is a bill that is bought and paid for by the Motion Picture Association of America (headed by former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)).  It’s stated purpose is to stop the online piracy of music, movies, and other copyrighted works.  On its face, that sounds like a reasonable provision.  The problem with the bill, as is the problem with many bills that come from Washington, is it inserts the government into an area that it has little or no knowledge of, and as is typical of government intervention, completely mucks stuff up.  Being in the technology industry myself, the provisions of SOPA make no sense, and would destroy the fabric and the backbone of the Internet by giving the government power over the DNS System.

Without getting into too much technical detail, the DNS System is what makes finding websites possible.  When you type in a website name (like axisofright.com) into your browser address bar, the browser looks up that address in a DNS Server.  The DNS Server finds something called an IP Address, which is a series of numbers that identifies the (for example, one of the IP Addresses for Google is 74.125.235.50).  The IP address then tells your computer how to find the website through a series of routers that bring you to your Internet destination and serve the web site into your browser.  It all happens in a fraction of a second.  Think of DNS like the virtual address book of the Internet.

SOPA would allow copyright holders to make a complaint against a foreign site or U.S. sites linked to foreign sites, and have that site immediately blocked from DNS, without any kind of due process.  All it takes is a complaint, and the site is blocked.  The same is true for search results.  If a copyright holder complains to Google or another search engine about infringement, Google will be forced under law to remove that site from its search results, again without any due process. The site owner can appeal to a court to get the site reinstated, but that is a burdensome, costly, and time-consuming event.  Such a take down notice could potentially cost a person or business large amounts of money, and could be used to censor sites that copyright holders (or even the government) don’t like, even if there is no copyright violation.

One only has to look at the other countries that have implemented DNS blocking and search engine blocking:  China, North Korea, and India, all of which are coming under fire for censorship.  The Internet as a whole has thrived and given birth to sites like this one because it is free and open.  Online copyright violations need to be addressed, but this bill is not the way to do it.  SOPA is a dangerous piece of legislation that will destroy the fabric of the free and open Internet by getting the government involved in an area that it doesn’t belong or understand.  It should be opposed and stopped at all costs.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Internet Shows It’s Influence By Killing Off SOPA | Axis of Right
January 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm
The Tech Vote: An Opportunity for Conservatives and the GOP | Axis of Right
November 27, 2012 at 11:44 am

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