AVguide has partially interrupted its regular service today to raise awareness of proposed legislation in the United States – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate–that, if passed, could seriously damage the Internet, including AVguide. This "blackout" is a simulation of what could happen under SOPA/PIPA.
We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause our users, and want to assure you that we believe this action is in your best interest as well as ours, or we wouldn't do this.
We are joining many other sites in taking action today because SOPA and PIPA have several provisions that could cause AVguide, and many other sites, to be shut down, without warning. A likely cause of this would be that AVguide users are allowed to post content on the site. In addition, there are broader issues here of process and power; but practically, as a small site, the concern we share with you is our survival. The concern we all share is for the survival of a user-involved, innovative internet.
This is a case where the intent (copyright protection) is good, but the methods are badly conceived. We ask you to support the effort to stop SOPA and PIPA by communicating your views on SOPA and PIPA to your congressperson and senators. More information on SOPA and PIPA is below.
We hope you will join us when we return to normal business tonight at 8 PM EST.
The AVguide Team
Chris, Jim, Tom, Garrett, Cheryl, Marvin, Rob, Jason and Tony
SOPA, and the related Senate bill PIPA, are meant to curtail the illegal use and distribution of copyright protected materials by foreign websites (which seems good). They do so by allowing content producers to request that infringing sites be punished by way of removal from search engine listings, payment systems, and its advertising providers. The ISP of offending websites could be forced to keep people from visiting the sites altogether.
That sounds like the bad guys get their due, but consider that any site that allows users to post content can be an offender because it is "primarily designed for the purpose of offering services in a manner that enables copyright violation." The site only has to provide functionality that can be used to enable copyright violation–i.e. allow users to post.
SOPA would allow IP owners affect this sort of blockade, without a court appearance.
SOPA's "vigilante" provision gives a measure of immunity to providers who proactively shut down sites they believe, in good faith, to be in violation.
The current Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) works quite well at getting copyright-infringing material taken down from websites.