Yesterday, along with many other people, I blacked out this website in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act. The bills are designed to shutdown websites deemed to be “dedicated to online piracy”, not by physically taking them down, but by amplifying the liabilities for our own online services as an enticement to voluntarily cut out all references to the offending websites.
The problem is that the scope of it's numerous definitions includes nearly everything. Service providers span the gamut from ISPs, to “cloud hosting”, search results, DNS servers, embedded advertisement, credit card services, even comment sections to blogs. What can count for infringement ranges from a full digital copy to a link that points to a stream of the copy. And since it is mechanically impossible to detect this authorization issue by content alone, this would require China style regulation (AKA Censorship).
In my years of attending college, I've experience what it is like to have websites listed in forbidden categories. You'll have all tumblr sites blocked as “adult” while newgrounds is not, Wikipedia being manually unblocked except for the login and search functions, or even everything under .ne.jp for more then a year. I don't want my personal email to break, but it happens when massive automated filters are employed to reduce the cost of manual review.
In all, these bills sets up a abusable framework of suspicion, mistrust, and surmise for anything that has online users.
Thanks to NearlyFreeSpeech.NET for providing a protest option.
note: This is what the protest option looked liked at the time.
Update: Whoa what‽ Megaupload, used as an example of what could be illegal under SOPA, has been seized by US DoJ and ICE today. How is SOPA and PIPA required at all if they went ahead and seized an overseas website and it's staff anyway?
Never forget what happened to Dajaz1.com