Protesting SOPA: How to Make Your Voice Heard

Sopa-megaphone-4f1631a-intro-thumb-640xauto-29481Jon Brodkin in Ars Technica:

As Ars readers know, Wikipedia, reddit, Craiglist, and others are blacking out their sites today in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), antipiracy bills that protestors believe would give far too much power to rightsholders at the expense of the Internet as a whole.

Members of Congress are already backpedaling on some of the provisions in SOPA and PIPA, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said Tuesday that he expects to have more co-sponsors for his alternative (and much saner) OPEN Act “than SOPA has in the House.”

SOPA opponents say it is critical to block the bill now, because if it is turned into law, website owners will be at risk of having payments blocked, or forced into lengthy and expensive litigation even if they're not trying to enable piracy or profit from it.

“Scribd could not have come into existence in a world governed by SOPA,” said Scribd co-founder Jared Friedman during a conference call yesterday. Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of reddit (which shares a parent company with Ars Technica), said much the same thing about Internet entrepreneurs. “I'd hate to be the Congressperson who has to go back to his or her district and say, 'You know what, maybe this is not the industry for you. Maybe you can try your luck in Canada.'”

Video hosting site Veoh found out the hard way what litigation can do to an Internet business, even when the law is on your side. Veoh was “litigated to death” before being finally cleared in a lawsuit filed against the site by Universal Music Group. “The lawsuit dramatically impacted our company,” said founder Dmitry Shapiro. “It cost us millions of dollars to litigate. It took up a tremendous amount of executives' time. More importantly, it dramatically demotivated our 120 employees who were constantly concerned about what this meant and what would happen to them and their families.”