Dear users and guests,
As some, and hopefully most, of you will know, a bill was introduced to the United States House of Representatives which is called Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
Simple Machines would like to make an official stance on this bill. Whilst you may be used to us being completely neutral on many matters, such as politics, religion and many other aspects, this bill poses such a threat to the entire internet community, including possibly ourselves and yourself as end user of our software, that we figured it was time to raise awareness of the dangers and problems involved with this bill.
While we do wholeheartedly support the primary goal of SOPA, which is to protect innovators and copyright holders from infringement and piracy by malicious persons, the bill in its current form is highly dangerous towards day to day operations throughout the entire internet, even outside of the United States, and may cause innocent people and companies to be prosecuted under the United States law. People and companies may even lose their websites or get cut off from receiving funds from payment processors without due process or any discernible probable cause, as the terms on when such a block can be put in place is very vague.
Let us first tell you a little bit more about SOPA.
The bill was introduced on October 26, 2011 by representative Lamar Smith with 12 initial co-sponsors.
This bill will give the US law enforcement and copyright holders more abilities to block and stop the distribution of copyrighted material and counterfeits. (Note: related acts are PRO-IP and PROTECT IP Act)
However, the way it is handled leaves no room for proper defense.
Some of the main issues with the bill are:
- Threat to online businesses
- Direct threat towards Web hosting companies
- General negative effects to DNSSEC, DNS and internet security in its entirety
- Threat to online freedom of speech, the bill will make censorship very easy
- Destroying of the safe harbors in the current DMCA laws
- Potential criminalization of users uploading content (including jail time!)
- Threat to Open Source software
- Providers can be forced to deploy deep packet inspection to directly target users, which violates user privacy
- Providers can be forced to block internet access completely to individuals
- Search engines will be censored
- Payment providers can be forced to block funding to individuals without a legal process or having to check safe harbors
- DNS systems in the US can be forced to block your access to certain websites, you no longer have the rights to choose what you visit, regardless of whether a site is legal or not!
TL;DR: it will cripple the internet, free speech and free choice throughout the world.
This bill will change the fundamentals of the internet completely. Legal processes that would usually be required to get far reaching measures set in place towards malicious users can effectively be bypassed by SOPA, which means that completely legit users may also be attacked, simply because the SOPA bill has such a broad language inside of it that it can be interpreted in many ways and it leaves no room for payment processors, DNS providers and (hosting) providers to see what is true or false: they have no choice but to oblige. Why? Because when they cooperate voluntarily, they will be immune from persecution. If they do not cooperate because it is unclear: they can be held liable.
You do not have the power to "act in good faith" with SOPA, such as required in the current notice and takedown system of DMCA, primarily due to SOPA's broad language. The bill will allow corporations and the government more power over free speech and provide completely new methods of effectively starting internet censorship for whatever it is they see not fit as being on the internet. (Basically, what a corporation could see as slander, but free speech to the user, could lead to a request for blocks from payment processors and providers by the corporation which will have to be honored within a matter of days.)
Because there are no more safe harbors such as with the current DMCA system, third party and user-generated content providers (such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Google, online communities like our own, and even the SMF websites that you create and use!) will be the ones liable and thus undermines the current legal structures that have allowed some internet platforms to evolve.
Again, let me make it clear that the proposed goal, to protect owners of content (copyright holders) against infringement and piracy, is a very good goal. However, SOPA itself contains many errors that will cause major problems to the functioning on the internet, it will threaten internet service providers and it can be a threat to all of you: the end users of the internet.
For example, your website can be shutdown solely for giving a negative opinion on something, as little as ONE user posting a link to copyrighted content or actually uploading it to your website. Next to that, YOU will run in to big trouble.
This is also why giant internet tech companies such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook, AOL, Ebay, Amazon, etc. are taking a hard stand against SOPA and are even threatening to blackout for a extended period of time to show the world what could happen if SOPA passes.
Please consider all of this well and try to understand the major negative impact this bill will have on the entire internet and especially to potentially innocent users and companies whom merely wish to use their right on Free Speech.
Make a stand against SOPA now! Contact your local Congressional representative, or if you are outside the US, sign petitions that request your government to make a firm stand against SOPA. After all, this can negatively effect all business and individuals all over the world.
For more information, please visit the following links:https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/10/sopa-hollywood-finally-gets-chance-break-internethttp://americancensorship.org/http://savehosting.org/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Acthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act#Arguments_againsthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROTECT_IP_Act
To join in, read americancensorship.org and see how you can get involved. You may also wish to 'censor' your website.
As part of the protest against SOPA, Simple Machines has decided to move all our domain names away from GoDaddy on a short notice, which is to say: as soon as possible. While we have done flawless business with GoDaddy to handle our domain registration for multiple years, their recent behavior in supporting SOPA, a law that if passed will be in direct conflict with the interests of their clients, is completely unacceptable and we do not feel like we can trust them to handle in our interests any longer. We are aware that GoDaddy suddenly, in response to the major amount of negative messages and many people leaving them, changed their point of view and "dropped" support for the act, such a change can occur again without problems when their larger clients do seem to enjoy the bill. Hence, the trust is gone and we will move.
Thank you for your due consideration and helping put a halt to the enrollment of this bill!
We sincerely hope that you will do all you can to attempt to stop this bill from ever passing Congress!
- Simple Machines Board of Directors
- Simple Machines Members