While SOPA and PIPA are two terms we’ve been a bit obsessed with lately, we’re going to assume that most of you are completely unfamiliar with them and what they mean. We really hope to change that.
First, let me explain as concisely as I can what SOPA and PIPA are. SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act, while PIPA is Protect IP Act. SOPA is a bill that has been presented in the House, and PIPA resides in the Senate. Both hope to enforce essentially the same thing: to stop online piracy and prevent rogue sites from stealing and profiting from copyrighted material. A noble gesture and one we definitely feel is needed – after all, we create content and produce ideas for a living and want to protect our work as well.
However (and this is HUGE), the hazy language of both bills creates enough grey area to create unmerited censorship, endanger free speech rights, threaten the commerce of a small businesses and create an incredibly unsafe internet.
Sounds a bit dramatic, I know. But it’s not.
There have been many, many articles and blogs written in the last several weeks that fully illustrate the importance of stopping both of these bills from passing into law. So, instead of recreating the wheel, here are links to excellent resources that will update you on the latest progress with SOPA and PIPA:
JustInCaseYouWereWondering has outlined 10 sites that provide everything from the list of companies supporting and opposing the bills to a live discussion of SOPA and PIPA.
You may see a lot of profiles and timeline banners altered on Facebook on January 18 in protest of SOPA and PIPA. Here’s an event that has gained thousands of followers and will explain the images in a little more detail.
The White House has released an official statement in opposition of the bills, which you can read here. While this is definitely a move in the right direction, it does not mean that the effort to stop them is over. SOPA has been shelved, but it has not been killed. PIPA has not been shelved or altered and is still very much alive in the Senate.
The most important thing for the general public to understand is that SOPA and PIPA aren’t strictly targeted on heavy internet users, techie geeks and social media nerds. They will undoubtedly alter the basic fabric of how we all use the internet – e-commerce, business development and free speech are all at risk.
As a social media firm, we shudder to think of the businesses we have helped connect with their audiences and how the passing of both SOPA and PIPA could endanger their efforts and successes.
We’ve seen how the use of social media to protest policy has made an impact in Egypt, Wisconsin and on Wall Street. Now the networking sites are being used in a fight to keep their basic functionality and sharing power alive. Simply put: social media cannot thrive if the ability to share information is hindered.
As a social media specialist for The Modern Connection, Jessica provides innovative and strategic solutions that help businesses connect with their customers. Jessica has a degree in Journalism from Kansas State University and has cultivated her knowledge with experience that includes national B2B and B2C PR campaigns for an array of clients. Connect with Jessica on Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare or Google+