I'm sure all of you have been reading about SOPA and PIPA in the news. While SOPA -- the bill in the US House of Representatives -- has gotten most of the attention, it's sister legislation, PIPA -- the bill in the US Senate -- represents a similar approach. These bills are driven by the content industry and are aimed at combating online piracy, protecting intellectual property rights of copyright holders and protecting jobs that are claimed to be affected. The content industry's key objective with this proposed legislation is to stop foreign companies who make millions of dollars on the backs of unlicensed content or counterfeit goods. While we absolutely support the idea of reducing intellectual property theft, SOPA and PIPA in their current form cannot be supported by Wikia. As such, we are taking action to oppose the current legislation and work to change them in ways we can support.
What is Wikia doing about SOPA and PIPA?
Here's what we're doing.
1) We have created a wiki (iplaw.wikia.com) as a resource about SOPA and PIPA. If you don’t understand these proposed laws or the background on them, please read about them on this wiki. I have also already blogged there on our position.
2) We are moving our domains from GoDaddy.com who was a vocal supporter of these laws, helped write them and had an unfair carve-out from the legislation. Wikia does not want to do business with those who operate like this. This move will be completed in mid-February.
3) On Wednesday, January 18 at 5:00 UTC (9pm California time Tuesday, midnight NY time Wednesday, 6am Poland time Wednesday) we will be initiating a high-impact campaign that will run for 24 hours. For all users that see ads, the first visit will display a very large (980x365) advertisement that will state Wikia's position on SOPA/PIPA, and if clicked, take the user to http://iplaw.wikia.com/wiki/Take_Action_Now.
When this creative displays, all other ads on the page will be blacked out, as will local wiki skins. This will provide complete focus on the message being delivered. When the page is refreshed or the user goes on to a another page, the ads and skin takeovers will disappear. You will not see the campaign again unless you continue on the site for more than an hour or come back again after an hour.
We are committed to educating and effecting change to the current proposed legislation and will reach almost the entire Wikia community in a high-impact, yet even-handed way.
What is Wikia’s position on SOPA and PIPA?
Our position on SOPA and PIPA is simple.
While we support finding new ways to crack down on counterfeiting and intellectual property infringement, we oppose SOPA and PIPA in their current form. They represent deeply flawed legislation. They overturn key elements of the DMCA that have enabled innovative, law-abiding internet companies to thrive, creating huge potential liabilities on site owners for all user generated content. They change the basic architecture of the Internet and institute a form of Internet censorship misaligned with our country's first amendment freedoms and right to due process. They would stifle Internet innovation that has become a key driver of the economy.
We firmly believe a superior approach to SOPA and PIPA can be achieved in a way that balances the needs of the content and technology industries if we work together in a spirit of mutual cooperation.
Don't the recent actions by the House of Representatives and the White House action kill SOPA and PIPA?
In the last few days there have been positive developments on SOPA and PIPA. The key sponsor of SOPA in the House of Representatives removed the DNS blacklisting approach from the proposed legislation. Also, the plan to move SOPA to a vote in the House has been postponed until "consensus is reached". Finally, the White House signaled that they would potentially veto SOPA and PIPA if they didn't change by saying, "While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."
While all of this is positive progress -- DNS blacklisting is still in PIPA -- both bills could still move through the Senate and House in their current form, and there is no absolute guarantee that the White House will veto the bills if left unchanged. The bottom line is that there is still much more work to do to ensure that SOPA and PIPA are either replaced with something better or evolve to become legislation we can support.
Therefore, we need to take action to promote change.