You’ve probably heard about SOPA by now. SOPA is a bill that, if passed, would allow private companies (i.e. the movie and recording industry) to obliterate sites from the Internet, merely by making an accusation. For an example of the dangers of such a law, a post by the founder of Weebly is a must-read. Weebly is a web service that allows users to create their own sites using a drag and drop interface. The service hosts millions of sites. In 2009, the site was hosting over two million sites, and all those sites almost went dark thanks to a complaint by one business.
David Rusenko tells a story about getting a call from the abuse department at GoDaddy, Weebly’s registrar, informing him that GoDaddy had removed the DNS entries for weebly.com from its system, and that the changes would become effective in 10 minutes. After pleading his case, GoDaddy reversed the changes, and the websites were spared.
What prompted this? One of the millions of sites hosted by Weebly had featured a bad review of a local business, and that business had complained to GoDaddy. Similar to how SOPA would work, GoDaddy acted upon an accusation. If Rusenko hadn’t answered his phone, that accusation, with no due process, would have taken Weebly and all of its sites offline. As Rusenko discussed in his post, the “trial and sentencing” under SOPA would work much the same way, as it is carried out by corporations who don’t care about the damage they cause for their misfires.
This fight isn’t about copyright. Unfortunately, there are are those in the anti-intellectual property crowed, who want everything for free, and are fighting SOPA on those grounds alone. They detract from the more compelling reasons for the fight. SOPA is bad, regardless of your stance on intellectual property, because of the destruction it would do to the Internet.