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Black Wednesday: SOPA, PIPA, And Your Company

If you try these Wikipedia links today (Wednesday) Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 or PIPA) you will likely hit a roadblock telling you about these issues. Black Wednesday, as it is being hawked, is supported by a wide range of companies including tech companies like Google.

 I'll let you know up front that I am also on the side the opposes SOPA and PIPA and I just let me state senators know about that. On the other side, supporting SOPA and PIPA, is a whole host of well funded organizations including the likes of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).

So why talk about it here on a usually technically oriented blog? If you don't know then you better check out the details. I won't get into them here because the details are numerous including everything from blocking websites to civil liberty issues. I've been following these proposed laws and issues for a long time and I don't know about all the items and issues in these particular bills. Still, all this is related to copyrights, patents and protection and these issues are key to the way we design, build and market technologies and products.

Compounding the problem is the bills are in a state of flux in response to those that support and oppose the bills. There is/was a section in these bills that dealt with domain names allowing law enforcment agencies to appropriate and block DNS resolution of domain names. This would be for "enhancing enforcement against rogue websites operated and registered overseas." As a short clip, it might sound good but look closer at the details in the bill because this aspect is just one of many. Blocking financial transactions is another aspect of these bills.

While many support these bills as a way to prevent piracy and even government opposition they often ignore the implications. The laws, if passed, could be used for a number of nefarious reasons such as one company attacking another. If you have not noticed, giants like Apple and Samsung are battling it out in the courtroom about products. Imagine what happens if their websites went away (actually made inaccesssible).

The Internet has brought great benefits to the world but its rules and regulations, both written and unwritten, are continually changing. The Internet is an invaluable tool that can make or break companies and even governments. Right now it can give a voice to an individual that would have been impossible just a few decades ago.

You probably haven't gotten out much substance from my rant but hopefully you are motivated to find out more and how it could affect you personally as well as your business. I don't know where Penton, our company, stands on these particular bills and, like most corporations, it is likely to remain neutral.

The question is: will you remain neutral?

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