Posted in Technology, Web dev, on 18th January 2012

Blackouts, SOPA and PIPA

There's a number of high profile websites unavailable today in protest over the the proposed legislation in the US against copyright infringment.

If the bills are passedm then the internet as we know it is no more. Any copyright infringement could lead to a website being seized and closed, and the owner prosecuted.

Last week Richard O’Dwyer, the creator of TVShack was told he faces extradition to the US for supplying links to copyrighted material. Links. A link of code. Yes he profited from piracy, but it seems a little hard to find a criminal element to his activities.

The bigger concern to myself and probably many others is: Who falls under SOPA and PIPA. Based on the O'Dwyer case probably everyone. And where's the line when it comes to your website. Let's use this one as a case in point; I live in the UK. I run this website from the UK. It bares a address. But, the servers it is hosted on are actually in the US. I'd wager that classes this, in the eyes of the power hungry US senate, as an American website. Which I find objectional to say the least.

I should clarify, that I'm not opposed to stricter laws regarding copyright infringement, but these particular bills amount to little more than censorship against free speech. And the knock affect could be huge. Where is the line drawn? Do we close Google for showing links to copyrighted material. And YouTube for hosting it. Likewise with Facebook, Twitter and probably any other website that makes the Internet what it is today. The days of it being a purely informational source are far behind us.

Are we destined to fall under similar regimes that block websites based on government intervention? Hopefully not. But only time will tell.