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HOW SOPA & PIPA THREATEN THE INTERNET AND WHAT WE CAN DO TO STOP IT

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A LETTER FROM
FULL VERSION ON REDDIT’S BLOG

THE REDDIT TEAM
The freedom, innovation, and economic opportunity that the Internet enables is in jeopardy. Congress is considering legislation that will dramatically change your Internet experience and put an end to reddit and many other sites you use everyday.

Internet experts, organizations, companies, entrepreneurs, legal experts, journalists, and individuals have repeatedly expressed how dangerous this bill is. If we do nothing, Congress will likely pass the Protect IP Act (in the Senate) or the Stop Online Piracy Act (in the House), and then the President will probably sign it into law. There are powerful forces trying to censor the Internet, and a few months ago many people thought this legislation would surely pass. However, there’s a new hope that we can defeat this dangerous legislation.

We’re as addicted to reddit as the rest of you. Many of you stand with us against PIPA/SOPA, but we know support for a blackout isn’t unanimous. We’re not taking this action lightly. We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t believe this legislation and the forces behind it were a serious threat to reddit and the Internet as we know it. Blacking out reddit is a hard choice, but we feel focusing on a day of action is the best way we can amplify the voice of the community. As we have seen yet again in the fight against PIPA/SOPA,

After much thought, talking with experts, and hearing the overwhelming voices from the reddit community, we have decided that we will be blacking out reddit on January 18th from 8am–8pm EST (1300–0100 UTC).

the best ideas come from our community. We all have just over a week to figure out exactly what to do with our extra cycles on January 18th. Please join us in the discussion in the comments here and in /r/SOPA.

EDITORS
Blair [ ohblair ] New York, NY Ryan [ killtheredditor ] Los Angeles, CA

DESIGN
Jack [ swampgum ] Australia

SPECIAL THANKS TO
Kate OccupyEarth The Reddit Team reddit.com reddit.com/r/SOPA reddit.com/r/politics janus_zeal Cover based on image by: IsaacMao source

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A brief introduction to

On October 26, 2011, Representative Lamar Smith (RTX) introduced H.R. 3261, or the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The stated goal of this bill and its sponsors is to stop copyright infringement, online piracy, and rogue websites selling medication that is altered or misbranded (or without a prescription). The bill would accomplish this through a variety of actions. First, it would give the attorney general authorization to seek court orders against “US-directed foreign Internet sites” who are committing or facilitating online piracy. These court orders would require the owner or operator of said sites to cease and desist any activities that constitute copyright infringement, recordings of musical performances or exhibited motion pictures, or counterfeit labels/goods/services. Additionally, the bill requires online service providers, search engines, payment providers such as Paypal, and advertising services to carry out “preventative measures” against these sites upon receiving a copy of the Attorney General requested court order. These entities would be required to withhold their services or block users located in the United States from accessing the infringing site. Also important to note is that this bill offers immunity from liability for these search engines, payment providers, etc. if they voluntarily block access to such sites.

Finally, this bill would expand criminal copyright infringement offenses and also the penalties for intellectual property offenses. So what does this mean for us, and what does this mean for the internet as we currently know it? As Hillary Clinton puts it, “When ideas are blocked, information deleted, conversations stifled and people constrained in their choices, the Internet is diminished for all of us…There isn’t an economic Internet and a social Internet and a political Internet. There’s just the Internet.” In other words, though this bill at first glance appears to only be aimed at piracy websites and those obscure sites trying to sell you huge bottles of Viagra, it could have a far reaching and lasting negative impact on the internet as a whole. Web-related businesses could suffer, social media outlets would almost undoubtedly not survive, and users who upload copyrighted content could be subject to even harsher criminal punishment than they are now. Free and open source software projects could be shut down. Furthermore, technology experts have expressed concern that this bill could potentially harm the very infrastructure of the Internet itself. Internet security and privacy might be compromised. Supporters of this bill claim that this legislation will protect content creators and intellectual property.

I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free internet or unrestricted internet access is a source of strength and I think that should be encouraged.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA • 11/16/2009

PHOTO: JAMES REA

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Supporters of this bill claim that this legislation will protect content creators and intellectual property. But at what cost? Many view this bill as the first step towards online censorship by the US government. Are we willing to begin going down that road? Are we willing to live in a world without sites like Facebook, Wikipedia, Ebay, or Youtube? Are we willing to take steps backwards in the world of free and flowing information, or will we stop this and continue to move forward?

Take action
Stop American Censorship r/sopa SOPAOpera

If you are a US citizen, please contact your local representative (you can find a list here) and ask what their stance on H.R. 3261 is. Call, write, or email- it DOES make a difference. Get in touch with those responsible for sponsoring this bill and let them know that they will not get your vote. Here is a list of the bill’s co-sponsors, and how to contact them:
Co-Sponsors of H.R. 3261 Contact information for US representatives

It’s important to also look at the monetary support behind this bill. Boycott the companies that support SOPA and those responsible for financing the politicians trying to push this through. Here is a list of SOPAsupporting entities:
List of companies that support SOPA

If you would like to learn more about SOPA or its sister legislation, here are some resources for further reading.
Video examinations of the bill’s language Wikipedia article on SOPA

If you are not a US citizen, you can still help! Spread the word about SOPA to everyone you know. Use sites like Facebook and Twitter to spread awareness. Get in touch with and support organizations, web sites, and people who are opposing and working to combat this dangerous legislation.

If you start out your speech by saying that you don’t know how to use the internet, you have no right to vote about it.
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This is a copyrighted image.

I F YO U P O S T T H I S O N L I N E YO U ’ L L FAC E U P TO 5 Y E A R S I N P R I S O N A N D A F I N E O F U P TO $ 1 5 0,0 0 0 FO R E AC H T I M E I T WAS V I E W E D. T H E N W E ’ L L B A N T H E S I T E T H AT H O S T E D T H E I M A G E A N D A N Y S I T E S T H AT L I N K E D T O I T.

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Under SOPA, you could get 5 years for uploading a Michael Jackson song,

one year more than the doctor who killed him.

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Explain Like I’m Five:

WHAT IS PIPA
Asked by tomejuan

And how is it different than SOPA?

PIPA (Protect IP Act) is the Senate’s version of SOPA (which is a bill that was introduced in the House). There is no significant difference, except that PIPA is currently being considered in the Senate (upper house of the legislature) and SOPA is in the House of Representatives (lower house). A bill must be passed by both houses before it is sent to the President to be signed into law. Normally a bill is written by one chamber of the legislature (House or Senate), then passed by that chamber, and then sent to the other chamber to be passed as well. However, in this case, what we have here are two independently written pieces of legislation that are sort of the same thing. So what happens in this case is that each chamber must pass its own version of the bill first, and then both bills are sent to what’s called a Conference Committee where the two versions are reconciled into one piece of legislation. That bill then has to go back to both chambers to be passed again. So once both chambers of legislature agree on the wording of the bill and then pass it, it’s sent up to the president to be signed into law. libbykino & general_mayhem

The wording in the two versions is slightly different, but they have the same effects: the government can censor any web site based on accusations by private entities. general_mayhem
A critical distinction is that PIPA requires the intervention of a court. The problem with both pieces of legislation, fundamentally, is that they screw with the basic structure and accessibility of the internet. SOPA wants to use DNS blacklisting at the root level (and every level farther down, for that matter), which by definition only harms legitimate users. PIPA wants to remove foreign sites (whose DNS we may not control) from the internet so that Americans can’t get there; that means some kind of country-wide internet firewall. That cannot be allowed to happen - it starts with good intentions, but as soon as one legitimate site is barred to US citizens, it has fundamentally violated our liberties. It’s the first step down a path we dare not travel. wildfyre010

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WHAT LIFE IS LIKE WITH RESTRICTED INTERNET
Written by Don_Chow

As someone living in China, let me tell you

Imagine having no Google, no Youtube, no Facebook, no Vimeo, no Twitter...
Imagine being forced to use Bing to search, no accessing any sites hosted on blogspot or wordpress, Gmail having intermittent outages, sites using Google Analytics taking ten times longer to load, Dropbox only working on occasion, and no other file sending services. Imagine that there are equivalents of these sites that are state-owned and controlled: a search engine that only returns government approved sites, a censored twitter where you must register with your real name and passport number, and an internet radio site that is forced to play “red” songs celebrating the government. Imagine that these government-sanctioned alternatives are shoddily and hastily assembled and have none of the quality or convenience the originals had. Of course, you can bypass all of this by paying a premium for a VPN. But even then, those can be unreliable or slow and often get shut down. And having to use them feels like a precursor to tiered internet services. Everyday using the internet here feels like a struggle. There is so much restriction of information, even that which could be considered “benign”. Imagine not being able to have access to any open education sites, such as Khan Academy. The lack of convenience of Googling for an answer is something I miss a lot. Going back home to US internet is amazing and something I’ll never take for granted again.

The lack of convenience of Googling for an answer is something I miss a lot. Going back home to US internet is amazing and something I’ll never take for granted again.
I know SOPA doesn’t imply that all of this would happen in the US. But it certainly feels like a step towards this sort of restriction, and sets a dangerous precedent. P.S. These restrictions here haven’t slowed down pirating a single bit. When I discuss it with my Chinese friends here, they say that everyone pirates everything; that anyone who legitimately purchases something that could be pirated is considered a fool for doing so.

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I can’t help but feel that, if more Americans realized that SOPA being made law would end free online porn, we would see riots in Washington the likes of which God himself has never witnessed.
- GDRAPOS

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Comic by corvuskorax

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I work in the News Media, this is how you stop SOPA & PIPA

I’ve worked in television newsrooms for years. I know the in’s and out’s of many broadcasts. You want action reddit? You want people to talk? Contact the Media...Call and write their phone lines / emails / blogs / social networks! Make it so every newsroom producer has NO choice but to make mention of the evil SOPA would bring. Flood their communication channels so bad, that the fact it’s happening becomes the story! State your case in your message and give them something to work with. First and foremost news needs a story to be told. Assignment editors and News directors will send reporters to localize stories. I am by no means an authority on how a newsroom works. I will say that I have NEVER once seen corporate influence in the journalist efforts in the pursuit of a story. I cannot speak for the inner workings of The FOX News Network. I will say it is common for a Newsroom to have regulations and procedures on certain content that hits the air. Bottom line, car commercials keep the lights on in your local TV station. Good journalism and interesting stories are going to keep you watching. If it’s good enough it gets filtered up to the big boys. If you think for a minute that some suit and tie executive could walk up to Brian Williams and tell him not to cover a story of importance because it doesn’t align with their company’s agenda than you are crazy. These journalists are of the highest caliber. But when you play with the big boys you better know your shit. Stories with the most interest on a stations website will only fuel our need to do more with it. Headlines sell... Interest sells... We investigate fraud and corruption and seek out the truth but if it doesn’t sell than Lindsay Lohan’s boobs will. Keep pressing your media outlets.
WRITTEN BY

washURmouthwithSOPA

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WATCH
CLICK TO LAUNCH VIDEOS IN AN EXTERNAL BROWSER

Interview With Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit on Bloomberg TV

Alexis Ohanian vs NBC on MSNBC

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The freedom, innovation, and economic opportunity that the Internet enables is in jeopardy. Congress is considering legislation that will dramatically change your Internet experience and put an end to reddit and many other sites you use everyday. Contact your local representatives. Email, call, & message your local news. Share and spread the message though facebook and twitter. Take action.

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