Tomorrow Social Media Today will join others in the Internet community by going dark in protest of SOPA, the "Stop Online Piracy Act." We respect the rights of every creative person to profit from his or her own work, and we deplore the mindset that digital media somehow free us from an obligation to respect the livelihoods of content creators, but SOPA is a misconceived bill that shouldn't even go back to the drawing board.
Our chief concerns about SOPA are shared by many:
SOPA circumvents the few protections site operators had under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Though the DMCA was deeply problematic, it at least created a set of safe harbor protections website operators could rely on to stay on the good side of the law and continue operations while they dealt with individual bad actors in their communities.
Rather than seek to address the tension between free expression and intellectual property by striking a balance between the two, SOPA makes First Amendment rights an afterthought that exist at the leisure of copyright holders, who can compel the disappearance of entire online communities thanks to the mere allegation of copyright infringement leveled against a single member.
SOPA also tosses the notion of due process out the window, creating conditions where legitimate businesses could be cut off from legitimately earned revenue without any meaningful review and with no meaningful recourse if they're inappropriately targeted under the provisions of the bill. That creates an unconscionably dangerous environment for anyone seeking to start a business on the Web.
Finally, SOPA seeks to establish a dangerous precedent by providing law enforcement with kill-switches that circumvent decades of sound Internet governance and undermine fundamental privacy rights and individual security in the name of vaguely defined threats to intellectual property.
Although it now appears that the SOPA bill is dead for this term, we are confident that its well-funded supporters will back to fight again, and registering our displeasure with ill-considered measures to restrict innovative content contributors remains important.
We agree with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) when it says, "this bill cannot be fixed; it must be killed."