I didn’t become aware of the issues surrounding the bills known as SOPA and PIPA (aka PROTECT IP) until a couple of days ago, and, like any bill, each of them is complex and difficult to understand, with legalese language and sometimes vague and ambiguous statements. One thing that is clear from reading parts of them is that they don’t seem to have been written by folks who know how the Internet actually operates in 2012.

SOPA (bill H.R. 3261) and PIPA (bill S.968) pose a serious threat to Internet freedom and threaten any site with user-generated content, which means sites like Wikipedia, YouTube, Tumblr, and just about any social media or blog site are in danger of either having to shut down, face federal charges, or take on an overwhelming amount of responsibility in policing their content to avoid liability which would likely be too cumbersome for their existing capacity.

I am not an expert and I still don’t understand all the implications and details, but I have read enough of the bills and commentary on them from trusted sources to know that I don’t want these bills to pass. Today, in protest of these bills, several big-name sites are protesting, many of them shutting down entirely, to spread awareness to their users about the dangers posed by these bills. These sites include Wikipedia, Google, Tumblr, Reddit, and more. (see a full list at Mashable) Even the LOLcats are in, and if that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

The end goal of the bills is ostensibly to limit piracy online, which is a completely reasonable thing to attempt. But SOPA and PROTECT IP are not the answer.

Recommended Reading on SOPA and PROTECT IP: