What’s with the black ribbon?

Normally, I try to avoid political statements on my blog. It’s a blog about reading and writing books, after all. No need to muck it up with politics.

But the more I read about the SOPA/PIPA protests going on today, the more strongly I felt about joining in, even if it’s just by putting a little black ribbon on my blog. (Thanks WordPress for making this so easy!)

Here’s why.

Basically, if your site features a single link to something the entertainment industry decides is a violation of one of their copyrights–perhaps a video of your child with a commercially produced song playing in the background, or a link to a video on YouTube that features clips from a TV show that weren’t obtained through the proper channels–under SOPA/PIPA your website could be shut down and you sent to jail for up to five years. Any website that links to your website could also potentially be liable.

Which means that Google would have to censor its search results, Twitter would have to monitor every single tweet, and YouTube would have to hire a team of censors to keep track of the videos end users upload to its site. Small companies without the resources to monitor the work of their users for copyright infringements might go out of business altogether. And for the little folk like me, blogging on WordPress would suddenly become a much more complicated proposition.

In short, SOPA/PIPA as written is a terrible idea. In my opinion, at least.

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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