While this week is important for the 49ers as we approach the 2012 NFC Championship Game, there are sometimes things that go beyond the 49ers and sports. Normally we do not engage in political discussion on this site, but once in a while there is something that transcends that rule and must be discussed. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) are perfect examples of that.
If you have been to Google, Wikipedia or Wired, among many other sites, you'll notice dramatic changes today. It is a one day protest against SOPA and PIPA. SOPA is a bill currently in the House of Representatives and PIPA is the corresponding bill in the Senate. The problem that initiated these bills was concern over foreign piracy of American intellectual property. There are numerous sites that violate American copyrights and trademarks and Congress was "attempting" to battle that with these bills.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, Congress has gone overboard without comprehending what they are doing. The two Congressional bills do take aim at these foreign sites, but they also threaten to suck in most legitimate sites on the Internet due to their overbroad and vague wording.
Niners Nation is part of SB Nation and SB Nation falls under the umbrella of Vox Media. The legal team at Vox Media had time to review these bills and has come out with an official position against the legislation under its current wording. You can read through the official position at that link, but some of the main concerns include:
- Decreased effectiveness and questionable availability of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor for sites that host user-contributed content;
- Higher compliance costs for all sites that host user-contributed content;
- Potentially overzealous compliance efforts by search engines and payment providers in their attempts to maintain the immunity offered by SOPA section 104;
- Serious constitutional issues in regards to due process and seizure of property.
There are significant issues where if anybody posts any sort of potentially unlawful video clips, Niners Nation could get shut down with little to no due process. The legislation basically provides for shoot first and ask questions later.
What can you do? Well, the most basic option is to contact your Senators and Representatives. At the Wikipedia link above, it provides an opportunity for you to enter your zip code to figure out who to contact. Google has created a petition to show Congress the groundswell of support against the legislation. The Senate will begin voting on PIPA on January 24, so try and sign the petition before then.