Ramblings of a Madman

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What is SOPA and why should you care?

Mike Ratcliffe's avatarMike Ratcliffe | January 18, 2012

I have received a flood of emails today from people asking about what SOPA is and was surprised when I looked online and didn't see any places that explains why SOPA would be a very bad thing. The idea behind SOPA is to stop online piracy and this is a good thing but there are some very, very serious consequences meaning the end of the internet as you know it.

Things that break SOPA's rules

  • Any site that allows users type or upload stuff could be taken down if a user types or uploads the wrong thing.
  • Uploading home movies with TV, music, computer game or even a physical DVD visible in the background... you singing a song would not be allowed. In fact, if a cereal box is in the background it would be against the rules.
  • A picture of a famous person (could even be a poster on a wall that is part of some photo or video) would also be a reason to take down a site.

Any site breaking these rules would be taken down.

The effect that this would have

  • Site owners will not only be responsible for their own comments and pictures but they will become responsible for comments and pictures that users upload in their comments. This means that every site owner will need to review every users comments, pictures, videos, etc. to ensure that they do not break any rules.
  • Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, blogs etc. could all become a thing of the past as e.g. Twitter cannot be expected to review over 10,000 comments per minute and YouTube cannot be expected to check 8 years of content per day to see if they break any rules.
  • Book reviews, music reviews etc. would become a thing of the past as having one of those things on your site would be against the rules.
  • There would be almost no cool new sites and the sites that you know and love would be taken down.
  • Basically any site that you can imagine that allows you to upload or type stuff would be taken down!

Khan Academy have done a great job of explaining the details in this video:

Of course there are more side effects but even the small amount of information above should help you see how huge an issue this is. If you live in the USA then you can sign a petition to stop this here.

Mike Ratcliffe

Written by Mike Ratcliffe who lives and works in England building useful things.