3 Reasons to Stop SOPA

internet lockdownThe Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also known as H.R. 3261, was introduced in the House of Representatives on Oct. 26, 2011 by Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas. 

A quick look at the headlines about it makes it seem like SOPA is a fix for online piracy of copyrighted content, which can only be a good thing, right? Who wants to work hard on creating something, and then have it pirated by copyright thieves?

Yet a closer read reveals a number of major threats to doing business on the internet contained in this bill, which is supposed to be the Protector of All Things Creative on the web.

#1 Reason to Stop SOPA: It will kill free speech on the web

Instead of protecting copyrighted content, SOPA would become the biggest threat to free speech in the U.S., and across the globe. During the rise of the Arab Spring movement earlier this year, governments in Egypt and other Middle Eastern and North African countries used proxy servers to shut down communication among protesters. On TIME’s Techland blog, Jerry Brito said of SOPA:

“Imagine if the U.K. created a blacklist of American newspapers that its courts found violated celebrities’ privacy? Or what if France blocked American sites it believed contained hate speech?”

SOPA mandates that proxy servers just like those used in Egypt, and still being used in Syria, be deployed to monitor web traffic.

Not convinced? Here’s more grist for the mill:

#2 Reason to Stop SOPA: It Will Kill e-Commerce

The language in SOPA will lead to a shutdown of sites like Etsy, Vimeo, and YouTube. How? Etsy is a storefront for almost a million small hand-made-goods creators. If even one of those almost-a-million vendors is accused of copyright infringement, under SOPA the entire Etsy marketplace would be shut down. Same for YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, and any other user-generated-content-driven site. Seem like a howitzer aimed at a house-fly to you? Yep, it does to us, too.

Here’s what Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro had to say after he wasn’t allowed to testify before the House committee working on SOPA:

“The bill attempts a radical restructuring of the laws governing the Internet. It would undo the legal safe harbors that have allowed a world-leading Internet industry to flourish over the last decade. It would expose legitimate American businesses and innovators to broad and open-ended liability. The result will be more lawsuits, decreased venture capital investment, and fewer new jobs.”

Sounds like a job-killing howitzer to us.

Still need more? Here you go:

#3 Reason to Stop SOPA: It Won’t Stop Internet Piracy

That’s right. The Stop Internet Piracy Act won’t even stop internet piracy while it’s hampering free speech and killing e-commerce. How is that possible? Here’s how: pirates can move incredibly quickly, and if one of their sites is shut down, they can move instantly to another server in another country. One that is likely not a signatory to any international copyright infringement treaty. That seems like lose/lose to us, with the only win going to the pirates.

If you like infographics, Mashable has a great one on what the effect of SOPA will be for the average U.S. internet user.

And if you don’t like what you’ve heard here about SOPA, contact your Congressional representative and tell him or her not to support SOPA

You’ll be joining a pretty loud chorus. Which you now know includes us. Sing out!

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