by Will Conley
It is a fact that the SOPA and PIPA bills currently being debated in the United States Congress are harbingers of doom and destruction for the Internet as we know it. It has yet to be confirmed whether SOPA is indeed asking for the first-born child of all Web developers, or whether PIPA in fact calls for daily sacrifices of World of Warcraft addicts to the Mayan feathered serpent god Kukulkan.
What is clear is that SOPA and PIPA opens the door to legions of leathery-winged lawyers who are bloodthirsty to swarm the Internet with lawsuits for any and all sites that so much as link to a blacklisted website. Oh, the bills claim not to encourage blacklists, but that’s silly. You can’t keep track of which sites are bad, naughty sites that have allegedly pirated content, without maintaining lists.
So which websites will be put at risk of being shut down by SOPA and PIPA? We here at This Blog Rules have peered into the future using our magic decoder ring found at the bottom of a bottle of tequila, and this is what we came up with. The 13 most popular and important websites (by Alexa ranking and the author’s whim) that fall under the purview of SOPA/PIPA are as follows.
That’s right, folks, Google itself falls under the purview of SOPA/PIPA. Although Google has the legal and lobbying resources to fight SOPA/PIPA, it could easily be targeted as a site that links to pirated content, because just about every damn thing on the Internet is linked to from Google, including allegedly pirated content.
If you post a link to anything that has allegedly been pirated — say, a six-year-old Justin Bieber singing a cover of a Justin Timberlake song without permission — then Facebook could be held liable by Timberlake’s recording company. In turn, Facebook would have to shut down or notify the offending user account. Admittedly, it would be awesome to see Bieber and Timberlake try to sue the shit out of each other in an epic struggle to see who has the biggest nads.
If the aforementioned six-year-old version of Justin Bieber posts that cover of the Timberlake song, then YouTube could be held liable by any company that feels like hunting Bieber down and suing him. All someone would have to do is send a notice to YouTube threatening litigation, and if YouTube doesn’t shut down the offending account within three days, YouTube could be forced to go offline. It’s technically true.
If you are one of the twelve people who still use Yahoo! to search for things on the Internet, just know that SOPA/PIPA could shut down Yahoo! if it links to anything some clown deems to be pirated. And Yahoo!, being just a small Internet start-up, might not survive the legal proceedings.
Wikipedia, which is known for its unpatriotically objective coverage of conspiracy theories and Mayan apocalypse predictions, is also at risk from SOPA/PIPA. The entry about Megavideo, for example, might link to Megavideo. Gasp! As we all know, Megavideo is run by evil, evil pirates who say “Arrrrgh” and aren’t attractive like Johnny Depp, and therefore should be sued into the dirt. Wikipedia, which dares to acknowledge the existence of Megavideo, could be sued for such America-hating blasphemy.
Like YouTube, Blogger is owned by Google. And if Google can be sued under SOPA/PIPA, so can anything it owns. Anyone can open a blog on Blogger and write things in it and link to things in it. This is called free speech, and it is dangerous. It’s a good thing Congress is there to protect copyright holders from such villainous pirates as Forex-and-Sexy-Time-Plus-Bieber-Videos.Blogspot.com.
Stop! Don’t tweet that link to the site that links to a site that links to the YouTube video of a budding pop star singing adorable covers of aging pop stars who stick their junk in a hole in a box. Twitter could be sued for this under SOPA/PIPA, but even worse, you could have your account suspended. Imagine the ridicule you’ll endure by “the Twitter community.”
As the number-one social network for professionals, envelope stuffers, and Independent Thumb Twiddling Professionals, LinkedIn lets users link to content in their timeline of updates. Although nobody ever reads your LinkedIn updates, a vigilant asshole could send LinkedIn an injunction to shut your account down if you link to anything that links to anything that links to anything that links to anything allegedly deemed to be pirated.
Yup. eBay could be at risk under SOPA/PIPA. I mean, it’s not like we’re afraid for the welfare of eBay — or of any of the aforementioned wildly successful Internet companies, really — but the point is that if you put your shitty 1988 Topps baseball card box set up for auction on eBay, and include an informational link to a website that might once have hosted allegedly “pirated” content, then eBay itself could be sued, and your account could be terminated. Are you seeing a pattern here?
A free blogging platform that could be sued under SOPA/PIPA. Are you starting to get the picture? Everything on the Internet is endangered by SOPA/PIPA. Everything.
Another search engine no one uses that could nonetheless be sued under SOPA/PIPA. Same goes for AOL.
A cool new search engine start-up company that filters out spammy websites from the search engine results, Blekko could be sued under SOPA/PIPA if it happens to ever link to a website that has allegedly pirated content. Which it does, obviously, because it’s a search engine.
Imagine the havoc that would be created if one person on Tumblr shares a rad picture of someone’s copyrighted emo crybaby treatise about how it’s his right to wear skinny pants, but then a thousand emo crybaby Tumblr users reblog the offending content. That means Tumblr has to shut down all of those accounts if some other crybaby raises a whiny stink about it. Otherwise Tumblr itself would have to shut down.
Any site, really, can be sued under SOPA/PIPA or sent an injunction wherein the site owner has to comply within three days. Popular sharing sites like Tumblr, Flickr, Vimeo, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Etsy, SoundCloud, and Posterous could all be screwed.
WikiLeaks, which publishes classified documents about stuff that, you know, matters, would be pushed further into the “O noz, we’re terrorists” camp via SOPA/PIPA. Think about it. If everybody and his grandma becomes a criminal worthy of being locked up for twelve months just for posting a song, imagine what the WikiLeaks founders would become in the eyes of the law for posting stuff that makes fools of the powers that be. Satan incarnate.
Even the Pulitzer Prize-winning, educational documentary website This Blog Rules would be at risk from SOPA/PIPA. As is well known, This Blog Rules is the go-to website for learning how to be more patriotic, a better parent, better in bed, more deadly on the field of battle, and freer as a people under the Constitution of the United States of America. Porno producers and civics teachers alike should be very concerned about this.
If none of this moves you, think about your own crappy website. What if you link to something you didn’t even know was pirated or allegedly pirated, and some jerk neighbor of yours decides to screw you over just because you made it with his spouse last weekend? SOPA/PIPA gives such petty vendettas a free outlet for exercising themselves, as it lets anyone narc on anyone else.
So get your ass over to this post by This Blog Rules head honcho Will Paoletto. Educate yourself. And get involved. Either that, or be inundated with a swarm of bloodsucking lawyers who want to make money off your terrorist linking activities.
Will Conley once worked inside the United States Capitol as a reporter, and once was all he needed.