OK, this title can only be deciphered if you’re Bulgarian. СОПА ПИПА ПОПА. See, SOPA [‘sopa] means ‘stick’ (carrot and stick, anyone?), PIPA [‘pipa] means ‘touching’, and POPA [‘popa] can be used to refer to pop culture. So you can say that a stick is touching pop culture. Get it now? Almost? Me too. Anyway.
The proposed SOPA (Stop Internet Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) quickly became a pop culture phenomenon, and this peaked on 18th January when pretty much the whole English speaking internet was talking about them – and protesting.
A lot of big and influential websites (including Reddit, Wikipedia, Wired, Mozilla, Craigslist, Boing Boing, even Google) took part in an online protest, blacking out their homepages and / or content to show what the internet would look like if the SOPA / PIPA legislations are put in action.
I also took part in the protest, blacking out this WordPress.com blog and images on my Flickr stream. Not the same as Wikipedia or Reddit, but hey.
WordPress.com added a quick and effective option for everyone with a blog to take part in the protest. The blackout included an explanation what this is all about, plus two petition forms embedded on the site itself. WordPress.com also blacked out its homepage of Freshly Pressed posts.
Flickr.com also enabled its users to join the protest, adding the option of blacking out a photo and adding a descriptive text:
Other creative ways to support the protest included the #factswithoutwikipedia hashtag on Twitter, as well as:
The avatar-personality Botgirl Questi who lives in Second Life.
Though one of the most provocative ways to protest was, I think, posted by The Oatmeal, a highly popular online comic artist. He created an animated GIF, which, expectedly, went viral, as does all of his work – in a very Tumblr-esque style. (it’s quite long, you might need to refresh the page to see it in full glory. It’s worth it – even the CNN reported about it!)
Sanity might actually win.
Why did I protest?
I have a problem with at least two of the proposed points.
- The presumption that a government organisation in, what they still seem to call themselves, a democratic country, could just close down a business, non-profit, or personal website, on the grounds of ‘suspected’ illegal action, and that includes websites outside of the US. No court order, no arrest, no conviction. No like.
- The presumption that it’s a more serious crime to steal a digital copy of someone’s work than it is to physically attack the person. I get that impression looking at the proposed penalties for copyright infringement – often exceeding the ones for physical theft or attack. Since when are bits more important than people??
Let’s see what happens next.