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No funny comments, no gags, no visuals today people. This is too serious.
I'm not one to mince words, so I won't. There is a pair of bills working their way through the United States Congress. One is called the Stop Online Piracy Act, originated by House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) and the other is the Protect Intellectual Property Act, originated by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Both are believed by various politicians who have been informed and funded by organizations such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) that such bills, when passed into law will effectively curb piracy. Neither bill will. They will however cause widespread problems on the internet however. The how is of a particular interest.
Both bills are designed to give an IP owning company legal force through the Department of Justice to force a website to be shut down and all funding to be severed without any legal recourse to any website that has any copy protected content on it in any form. To put in layman terms, if you visit a website that has been hit by this, you are greeted with either a connection error display or a notice that the website is blocked by the United State's Department of Justice. This can be as innocuous as having an image of a CD cover as your avatar. Now consider that the Internet is a really large place and there are very few websites out there that do not have any copy protected content on them. Over time, every single website that has even the most minute trace of such content will be blocked or shut down. That is a lot of territory being covered. Sites such as Youtube and Wikipedia, both already in the cross hairs of the previously mentioned organizations can be completely shut down with a single phone call, then sued into oblivion.
To compound the issue even further, such actions are applied through either the Domain Name System or by severing the Internet Service Provider's connection to the Internet. This has implications beyond the United States Border, as both the DNS and the physical connections in the the United States are vital parts of the current Internet worldwide. Such actions taken through the use of the bills can cripple or even wipe out the Internet if organizations use them with heavy handed use, which they have an unfortunate track record of doing. I'm not even American, yet these bills can and will affect my very capability to work as I rely on the internet for information and communication.
There is a small degree of hope. The ESA gets direct funding from it's largest trade show, The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. There is a movement started by gaming journalists at ScrewAttack.com, The Escapist, and Penny Arcade in addition to indie MMO creator Red 5 Studios, Creator of the online Game FireFall to not attend, cover, or support E3 until the ESA drops it's support of SOPA and PIPA. The support is increasing with more and more people agreeing, supporting and aiding this motion. This is an urgent call to all freelance and employed journalists, developers, and publishers who visit BitMob and soon to be GamesBeat: If you can, support the movement by following in their footsteps. By doing so you cut funding for the ESA and show them that they need to drop support for SOPA/PIPA or risk losing out far more than they gain. The ESA claims to be word of the industry and of the community. It's time to show the world that they don't.