SOPA and PIPA: Internet vs. Congress and the online blackout to come

By now I am sure you’ve probably seen the acronym SOPA (and its sibling, PIPA) around the web. No, SOPA and PIPA is not Latin for salt and pepper but certainly something a bit more serious.

What is SOPA?

Well, SOPA is the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, written with the intent of more vigorously protecting copyright around the web. SOPA is intended to curb online piracy, specifically piracy facilitated by “foreign rogue websites,” meaning sites that are hosted outside of the United States, and thus outside the reach of Uncle Sam’s hand.

SOPA sounds good, so what is all the fuss about then?

A site can be shut down for a single infringing link that has been posted — even if it’s a link you didn’t post. As you can imagine, this makes life pretty much impossible for Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Under the SOPA law, infringing sites are blocked by a domain name, not an IP address. The problem is that real pirates have no problem using IP addresses to continue to download copyrighted content illegally. However, your customers will not know how to find you by IP address alone. If your domain name is blocked, they won’t be able to get to you anymore. They can’t read your blog, they can’t order your products, services…you simply don’t exist.

Given the current state of the global economy, the last thing we need is a law like SOPA that puts small businesses, especially small web-based businesses, in danger.

PIPA, on the other hand is a similar act seeking to also eliminate online piracy. However, unlike SOPA, PIPA does not require search engines (like Google, Yahoo, MSN and Bing) to remove “foreign infringing site” from their indexes. For this reason SOPA has been dubbed “controversial”.

What’s next?

In protest against SOPA and PIPA being made law, a mass online blackout has been scheduled for Wednesday, January 18 2012.

The blackout will affect a number of websites:

Among others, these sites will simply not be accessible on Wednesday, January 18, 2012. They have already displayed a page informing visitors of the potential consequences of SOPA becoming law.

Ceri is the Sales and Marketing Director at Talooma. Over about 15 years, Ceri has developed his passion for meeting people and selling, during which time he has mastered the art of networking and consulting. Ceri has enjoyed watching the Internet industry grow over the past 10 years in South Africa and has been very fortunate to have been a part of it.
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