Surviving the World

A Photocomic Education by Dante Shepherd

Lesson #1267 - Where The Power Lies (A Comic About SOPA)

I really just wanted a happy week of nonsense comics. And usually I don't make direct appeals through STW.

But tomorrow (Wednesday) some in the House of Representatives in the US will be voting on a bill called SOPA, short for Stop Online Piracy Act. If you don't know about it, you need to, whether you live in the US or not. It's essentially a bill that was meant to set up a means of stopping piracy of intellectual property over the internet - certainly not a terrible intention. However, the bill that has been constructed (as well as a similar bill in the Senate, PIPA) is so poorly and broadly put together that what is meant to limit piracy instead allows for censorship techniques that can shut down entire websites. Infringed content won't even need to be hosted on a site for it to be shut down - links to the content can be enough. Which not only will make it very difficult to share material across the internet, but it will put strong restrictions on creators to produce anything without being completely sure they would have complete copyright to it.

Even if this is a terrible bill, you might think, hey, no worry, Congress can't ever agree on anything. No way will it pass. Unfortunately, support is bipartisan. Of all the things they choose to agree on, this is apparently the one. While opposition to the bill is bipartisan as well, opponents are people who actually know how the internet works, and the difference between DNS and ISP - they are greatly outnumbered by people who not only have no idea what they are voting on, but also who take pride in not knowing about it. Hence the comic above.

Here's an infographic providing you with a bit more information about SOPA. Consider: most of the big internet companies we all know - Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook and so on - they're against this bill, as are many top technicians who truly understand the internet. It isn't just that sites can be shut down so easily, but the vague language in the bill discussing fines and prison - it should worry you.

SOPA is not the answer for any creator working with the internet who is concerned about work being shared with no connection to the original source. And it really needs to be stopped before it becomes law.

So I am asking - please, contact your representative today and let him/her know your opposition to the bill. If you live outside the US, contact your friends in the US and tell them to contact their representatives. If you haven't heard about SOPA before, learn about it today and tell other people about it today. There's a vote scheduled for tomorrow, and it might pass. Voiced opposition may be the only way to stop it.

I have never contacted my representative before, but I'll be doing so today. Please, do so as well. Thank you.