In the event you haven’t heard, our geniuses in Congress, the same wildly unpopular people who today declared pizza to be a vegetable, are currently considering passing laws — the PROTECT-IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) — that would flat-out endanger the internet as well all know it. If passed, they would officially bring Iran and China-style Internet censorship to the US as a matter of law — except the power to censor would be placed in the hands of corporations, naturally, because corporations pulling the strings behind the curtain in the United States has become as American as obesity and reality television.
Calling its plan a “market-based system to protect US customers and prevent US funding of sites dedicated to theft of US property,” the new bill gives broad powers to private actors. Any holder of intellectual property rights could simply send a letter to ad network operators like Google and to payment processors like MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal, demanding these companies cut off access to any site the IP holder names as an infringer.
The scheme is much like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) “takedown notices,” in which a copyright holder can demand some piece of content be removed from sites like YouTube with a letter. The content will be removed unless the person who posted the content objects; at that point, the copyright holder can decide if it wants to take the person to court over the issue.
Here, though, the stakes are higher. Rather than requesting the takedown of certain hosted material, intellectual property owners can go directly for the jugular: marketing and revenue for the entire site. So long as the intellectual property holders include some “specific facts” supporting their infringement claim, ad networks and payment processors will have five days to cut off contact with the website in question.
So in an effort to stop this nonsense from passing, Tumblr is going all-in: when I checked my dashboard just a few minutes ago, everything looked like this…
The only way to get it back to normal was to click on the “Stop The Law That Will Censor The Internet!” link at the top of the page.
Anyway, for more information on just how awful and stupid this is, watch the video below, and then call your representatives in Washington to let them know how awful and stupid you think it is.