SOPA, PIPA and Online Communities



Today, January 18, 2012, several major internet sites, including Wikipedia, Reddit and Boing Boing, are dark to protest two new pieces of federal legislation, SOPA and PIPA.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), House Bill 3261, would allow copyright holders to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Proponents of the bill hope to stop the illegal copying of movies and music. Opponents say it would require websites to police their members as well as seriously limit freedom of expression on the internet.

The Senate version of SOPA is The PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011) or PIPA, Senate Bill 968. A vote on PIPA is scheduled for January 24, 2012.

The bills are supported by The US Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, among others and are opposed by the Mozilla Corporation, Facebook, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Yahoo, Google, reddit, American Express, Reporters Without Borders, eBay, Google and others.

How would these laws affect us here at Mothering? We routinely publish photos, links and videos uploaded by our community members. While we are always diligent in removing anything that represents a copyright violation when it comes to our attention and include cautions about this in our User Agreement, we might not catch everything. According to opponents of these bills, our entire domain could be taken down due to something erroneously posted by me, another blogger or a member of our forums.

Wikipedia has a good overview of these bills, once the site is viewable again on January 19th. Below are four non-profit sites where you can learn more. Three of the four sites below will also be black today in protest of SOPA and PIPA but their sites will link you to political action tools.

Center for Democracy and Technology

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Reporters Without Borders

Stop the Wall

Whether it’s identity security, as highlighted by this week’s hacking into Zappos customer accounts; personal privacy, as illustrated by the new hit TV series, A Person of Interest; or commercial property vs. personal liberty, as dramatically juxtaposed in SOPA and PIPA, the new frontier is the internet. We need to understand the implications of these and other internet laws and act to protect ourselves and our liberties.




Peggy O’Mara  (101 Posts)

Peggy O’Mara founded in 1995 and is currently its editor-in chief. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has lectured and conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League International, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four.

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