Today, major sites like Wikipedia and Reddit chose the “internet nuclear option” and blacked out their sites for a day in protest of two bills making their way through Congress: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
On Jan. 5, ONA published a Letter from the President explaining our stance against SOPA and PIPA:
As an organization representing thousands of content creators, ONA strongly condemns infringement of intellectual property and the violation of copyright. However, we believe SOPA would do little to stem those problems and would actually cause harm to the Internet and to the American public.
Indeed, the act — and its counterpart in the Senate, the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA) — would inappropriately shut down websites, disrupt the free flow of legitimate information and limit Americans from fully exercising their First Amendment rights.
That is why, consistent with ONA’s desire and mission to keep the Internet open and vibrant, we join with others to oppose SOPA and PIPA. Furthermore, we encourage our members to contact their representatives in Congress and ask that they, too, oppose these bills.
This weekend, the outcry prompted a quick reversal from many congressional representatives, and House leadership also pulled back support for the bill in its current form. The White House Saturday came out against the current incarnation of the bill, saying “we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”
While this was a blow to the bill, it is not off the table, which is why Google, Wikipedia, Firefox, Wired, Reddit and many other sites chose to black out in protest. However, weird news aggregator Fark chose to go white in support of SOPA/PIPA. Why?
While a bunch of other sites are going “dark” to protest SOPA/PIPA, we’re over the moon about the whole thing. Why? Honestly, we’ve been bringing you the latest news happening across the internet for 12 years, and we’re tired. And SOPA/PIPA is the perfect excuse to quit.
While SOPA might be “almost dead,” it’s not quite all the way there, and under various drafts of both SOPA/PIPA, Fark could have its DNS assignment (the thing that turns an IP address, like 10.0.0.1, into words like Fark.com) revoked without notice simply for linking to content that could come under foreign copyright claims. This means, even if it is actual news in and of itself, if we link to it, we can be shut down. And thank God, cause we’re about ready to crack under the strain of being on top of the news all the time.
On a more serious note, there are many organizations still supporting SOPA/PIPA. At press time, none of the major players listed as supporters issued an updated statement about the legislation. But companies like Walt Disney, NBCUniversal, CBS, The American Association of Publishers, Phillip Morris, Viacom, and Xerox are still listed as supporters. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is one of the most vocal supporters, taking to Twitter to air his feelings:
Please check the ONA Issues tumblr for the latest conversation around SOPA/PIPA.