Back from the Darkness

Unless food allergy legislation is involved, I make a point of staying away from politics on this blog.  I want my little home on the internet to be a place where everyone dealing with food allergies feels welcome, regardless of political philosophy or personal beliefs.

The news about the pending SOPA/PIPA legislation worried me enough that I considered taking my blog down today as part of a planned massive online protest.  The idea of taking my blog offline was so painful, that I knew I had to do it, since I believe these bills present a very real risk of actually censoring sites like mine at the behest of corporate interests.  So I did.

To be clear, I do not support theft of copyrighted content, especially since I have had my own recipes and photos stolen and posted on other sites.  I began photographing and blogging my recipes because I want to share them, and do so under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License.  You are free to copy and adapt my work here as long as you give me credit and don't attempt to profit from it.  I was furious the first time I saw my cookies submitted as someone else's original creation to a recipe site, along with my photo with my watermark carefully cropped off.  I really do understand the need to protect intellectual property.

SOPA and PIPA go far beyond that, though.  They give copyright holders the right to block the I.P. address of a website that they deem to have infringed upon them.  (By the way, the method is the same one China uses to block political dissent online.)  Even more scarily, this includes content uploaded by a site's users and comments left by visitors, not just content offered by the owner of the website.

How could this potentially effect a little blogger like me?  If a publisher decided, with or without justification, that one of my recipes was was stolen from their authors' copyrighted works, I could be shut down.  This is not an unrealistic concern.  For example, the Associated Press is already notorious for threatening legal action against bloggers who merely quote AP articles, even when the blogger scrupulously follows fair use guidelines.

These bills threaten free speech and the exchange of all information online.  If you value the information you've found and the communities you've joined, the support you've discovered and the friends you've made, contact your congressional representatives and tell them to vote NO on SOPA and PIPA.

Stop SOPA/Stop PIPA image courtesy of Bloggers Alchemy.


J3nn said...

PIPA/SOPA are two of the greatest assaults on freedom that Americans have ever faced. This tyrannical overreach by the government must stop. A government that can do something like this, can do just about anything because we allow it when we do not take action against the offenders of liberty. I'm pleased to see another blog I subscribe to taking a stance.

Jym | Blogger's Alchemy said...

Great to see that you're supporting this too Libby - it's important that we all stand up to raise awareness and have our voices heard on this issue.

LIke you I don't tend to bring politics into my blogging, but the potential for this to affect all of us and our experience of the web is too worrying to ignore.

Cases such as the one you mentioned with others stealing your recipe and cutting off the watermark (put the watermark through the middle!) would probably not benefit from the proposed legislation - unless you are a large entity with a significant profile in the eyes of government.

In short, SOPA and PIPA are not designed to help small webmasters and bloggers like you and I.

As a side note, if you find work of yours copied or used illegally, one step you can take is to contact their host (your host will be able to help you find out who that is if you're not sure how) and ask them to sort it out.

Hosting providers are always more than happy to prevent illegally used materials from being hosted on their servers, and will usually be quick to shut them down.

Thanks for the link mention, and let's hope we can all stop SOPA together!

Libby said...

Hi Jym!

Don't worry, I wasn't under the impression that this legislation was in any way designed for my benefit.

Thanks so much for the advice on how to have my content taken down from other sites if it's been stolen.

It's very nice to meet you and all the other bloggers working to stop this legislation!

Speedbump Kitchen said...

Yep. Yep and Yep. I've had my blog "splogged", where all the content was copied and posted on another cooking site with the goal to make money on advertising. (In case you're wondering, I discovered it by googling a sentence from one of my posts and it showed up on a splogger's site.) Guess what? The free market took care of it. I contacted their web host and it was taken down within 24 hours. Now I keep a Google Alert on keywords in my blog, so I'll know if someone else is stealing my stuff.