Tomorrow, January 18th, we're going to interrupt our normally scheduled Shapeways Live and postpone it by a day. Why is that? At 2pm EST, when Shapeways Live normally takes place, I'll be standing outside the offices of NY Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with members of the Shapeways team, and 1,100 of our closest from the local tech community, protesting SOPA and PIPA at the Emergency NY Tech Meetup.
Why are we bothering to stand out in the cold during our lunch break, and generally disrupt our daily activities? Robert wrote about SOPA and PIPA back in November, and laid out Shapeways' stance on this piece of legislation link. Basically, it's bad news. It takes the generally honorable goal of protecting folks who create content and defines it so poorly and so broadly that if passed, it endangers the flow of information on the Internet. Tech entrepreneurs would spend so much time in the courtroom that they couldn't run their companies, while people could face jail time just for (unknowingly) streaming copyrighted content. To quote the information technology magazine eWeek:
"The language of SOPA is so broad, the rules so unconnected to the reality of Internet technology and the penalties so disconnected from the alleged crimes that this bill could effectively kill e-commerce or even normal Internet use. The bill also has grave implications for existing U.S., foreign and international laws and is sure to spend decades in court challenges."
So thanks for understanding. I'll see you back online for Shapeways Live on Thursday January 19th, at 2pm. And if you want to learn more about the movement to stop SOPA and PIPA, head on over to Stop American Censorship site.
In a nutshell, SOPA allows large companies to kill the DNS entries for any one (individual or company) they feel is violating their IP rights. This effectively prevents you from using human friendly addresses like www.google.com. Instead you would have to type out 22.214.171.124 into your web browser, and memorize it for every website you want to visit.
It doesn't stop piracy at all, but it does give large corporations the ability to remove competition without a judge, jury or due process. It was a bi-partisan bill that was paid for by comcast, disney, RIAA, MPAA et al.
The reason why several people in the house and congress support it is due to the fact that they are computer illiterate and don't understand ecommerce, hacking, piracy, or the internet in general. In fact, I doubt they realize that seizing control of this internet will cause us techies to build a second one outside of government control.