CNAV will go on strike, effective midnight tonight, in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). These measures are unnecessary, unconstitutional, and lay the foundation for complete government interdiction of Internet sites as the government sees fit.
A statue of Atlas, that became the cover illustration for Atlas Shrugged
SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) (see text here) is supposed to stop unpaid downloads of motion-picture, music, and other content, especially of new releases. The major record labels, movie studios (if the name studio still applies), and similar publishers complain that when anyone uploads and downloads any of their content without a license, that content loses value. The United States has laws in place to define and punish such copyright violation,. The problem: several sites that act as clearing-houses for such downloads exist outside the country. The publishers cite China as one of the worst offenders.
Enter SOPA. Under its current version, the government would have full authority to de-list an offending domain from the Domain Name Service (DNS). So anyone wanting to reach a site must either know its Internetworking Protocol (IP) address ahead of time, or not access the site at all. And the owner of the domain would have no recourse in court against such a de-listing.
This is an unconstitutional bill of attainder. It amounts to trial by legislature. Worse yet, the bill provides no clear guideline about what makes up actionable copyright violation and what does not. So anyone who even links to other content could face de-listing, hence total shutdown, often over a regrettable misunderstanding of license terms. This also gives the government a tool to shut down any site that criticizes it in any way, by bringing a specious charge of copyright violation.
At last report, several Members of the House are wary of SOPA and the Senate’s version, now called PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). But according to SOPA’s dedicated opponents, the Senate will bring its version to the floor next week for a vote. At the moment, only six Senators stand against PIPA. Forty-one could block it entirely. The job of blocking it in the House is much harder.
The SOPA Countdown site has called a general strike of the Internet from midnight EST tonight for twenty-four hours. Google.com and Wikipedia.org will take part. CNAV will also take part. During that time, this page will display, asking visitors to contact their Senators and Representative to stop this bill.
CNAV will resume normal operation at midnight Thursday.