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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

FlickFilosopher.com will join the SOPA protest on Wednesday, January 18

This coming Wednesday, January 18, the U.S. House of Representatives will hold a hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act, which I wrote about last month. Here’s some more background:

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

See also CNET’s FAQ on how SOPA would affect you.

The list of companies that support SOPA is enraging, and includes:
NBC Universal
Time Warner

It also includes basically every major league sports organization in the U.S., and publishing entities such as Baker & Taylor (which distributes books, CDs, and DVDs from major publishing houses to libraries and stores) as well as major publishing houses themselves.

This will kill the Internet as we know it.

Cory Doctorow, in explaining why Boing Boing will “strike” on this coming Wednesday, says (emphasis mine):

Boing Boing could never co-exist with a SOPA world: we could not ever link to another website unless we were sure that no links to anything that infringes copyright appeared on that site. So in order to link to a URL on LiveJournal or WordPress or Twitter or Blogspot, we’d have to first confirm that no one had ever made an infringing link, anywhere on that site. Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages, just to be sure that we weren’t in some way impinging on the ability of five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global publishers to maximize their profits.

If we failed to take this precaution, our finances could be frozen, our ad broker forced to pull ads from our site, and depending on which version of the bill goes to the vote, our domains confiscated, and, because our server is in Canada, our IP address would be added to a US-wide blacklist that every ISP in the country would be required to censor.

The same applies to FlickFilosopher, in general. (My Web host is in Canada, but my server is in the U.S. And since I’m on a shared server, I could find my site censored even if another site on the same server — over which I have no control — was deemed in violation of this law. I don’t have advertising, but my PayPal and Amazon Payments accounts, which receive subscription payments, could be frozen.) Every bit of fan art I’ve ever linked to or posted could, conceivably, be considered an instance of copyright infringement. Any mention of region-free DVD players I’ve made might be a problem. Nearly every page on this site links to the IMDB; many pages link to YouTube, to Twitter, to Facebook. I’d have to find and remove all those links. Or perhaps not: perhaps the IMDB, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook would themselves have to shut down, because they could not police their millions of users.

protest SOPA

Probably this SOPA protest image could be construed to be in violation of SOPA.

The Web itself, as we know it now, would probably have to disappear overnight. And what would be left would be only those sites that are approved by the corporate publishers and distributors of film, music, books, art, and journalism. The Web would be nothing but a giant advertising space for only the stuff huge corporations want you to see, and only in the way they want you to see it.

A slew of large sites will be protesting — some by blacking out their sites entirely — on the 18th, including Reddit, the entire Cheezburger network, and CakeWrecks. But no mega site — Twitter, Facebook, Google — has so far indicated that they will join.

I don’t know how much impact a much smaller site like mine can have by protesting, but I have to join in. FlickFilosopher.com won’t be completely blacked out next Wednesday, but between 8am and 8pm Eastern time, you will get a reminder of what the Net would look like if SOPA becomes law.

If you like to join in SOPAblackout.org has a simple Javascript that even I was able to implement, as well as a WordPress plugin.

I must confess that given the willingness of America’s elected representatives to support their corporate friends over the citizenry, I am not hopeful that SOPA can be defeated. But we have to try.

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maryann buzz | Net buzz
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