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Author Topic: An Important Message from the EFFN Founders  (Read 25184 times)
 
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« on: January 27, 2012, 02:12:05 PM »

As many of you are no doubt aware by now, there have been recent events happening around the Net that we here at EFFN feel are important enough to warrant everyone's attention. On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, Internet websites such as Reddit and the English version of Wikipedia went black for a single day to protest two bills going before the US Senate and House. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT IP Act or PIPA) are bills that the US Government is trying to pass in order to give them the ability to combat online trafficking of copyrighted products, particularly those sold overseas.

Why should we consider this a big deal? Because these bills, if signed into law, would give the government the right to request court orders to bar advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with infringing websites. Search engines would not be allowed to link to the sites. They would also be able to obtain court orders requiring Internet service providers to block access to the sites. This law would also expand existing criminal laws to include unauthorized streaming of copyright material, imposing a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Think about what that means to you as an individual, to EFFN as a community, and to the Net as a whole.

No more fandom. No more stories or art. EFFN and sites like it would cease to exist.

Opponents of these bills fear that if they're passed, the legislation in them will be a threat to free speech and innovation, that it would enable law enforcement to block access to entire internet domains due to infringing material posted on a single blog or webpage. They have raised concerns that SOPA bypassed the "safe harbor" protections from liability presently afforded to Internet sites by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Library associations are concerned that the bills' emphasis on stronger copyright enforcement could expose libraries to prosecution. Other opponents believe that requiring search engines to delete a domain name could begin a worldwide arms race of unprecedented censorship of the Web. Such fears are what prompted the twenty four hour blackout.

Websites large and small all over the Net joined Wikipedia and Reddit in their efforts. One number estimates anywhere from 75,000 to 100,000 websites went black in protest of the bills. Response was so overwhelming that, for now, the bills have been put on hold for an indefinite amount of time. Down, but not out.

And if it isn't enough that the US is attempting to pass these bills, there is a similar article being considered for pretty much the rest of the globe. This one is called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and would essentially work along similar lines as the two US bills.

All three of these pieces of legislation need to be stopped. But what can we do? More than you think. You need to raise your voices and make yourselves heard. Let lawmakers know we won't let them destroy our beloved Internet.

Of course we will keep you informed about any news relating to SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA. Anytime something new comes up, you can be sure you'll find information on it here.

For now, we'd like to leave you with some links that will provide information about this legislation and what you can do to fight it.


In case you'd like a clearer vision of what these bills mean, you can find an easy to read flowchart here: Behind SOPA: What it means for business and innovation

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement: ACTA

Wikipedia's SOPA Initiative

Reddit's blog: A technical examination of SOPA and PIPA (This article contains links to the current versions of both bills provided by the Library of Congress and the Government Printing Office)

SOPA Strike (This website lists the websites that participated in the strike on January 18 as well as methods that can be used to continue the fight)

Lend your name to the fight to stop this legislation here in the US: Stop American Censorship

Lend your name to the fight to stop this legislation, even if you're not in the US: Petition the State Department

And here are a few reasons why you should care, even if you're not in the US: US pressured Spain to implement online piracy law
Wikileaks cables reveal US pressures Canada on IP enforcement
The US pressures the EU to pass ACTA before the end of 2011
What SOPA means for a non US citizen (This is an opinion piece)
The real victims of SOPA: Fans and the globalized fandom


Further information on ACTA:
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Fact Sheet
A finalized version of ACTA as of April 15, 2011: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and the history of the treaty's formation: ACTA History
Letters written by US Senator Ron Wyden challenging the constitutionality of ACTA:Letter 1Letter Two
And here is a Response to those letters from the administration.
Finally, a video about ACTA: ACTA

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