Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop SOPA/PIPA -or- Why My Websites are Down Today

If you haven't heard of the effort to stop the proposed SOPA/PIPA legislation, then you probably haven't been on the web lately.

Basically this is bad, very bad, proposed legislation with (at least) some good intentions. The problem is they are way too easy to abuse.

My company has been a victim of just this sort of badly written law. I own a small(ish) online business and we used to sell on eBay. It was a great source of income. However, due to a poorly written provision in the DMCA (which is, on the whole is a good law) our competitors would file fraudulent take-down notices with eBay, who then was required by the law to pull our products from eBay.

We had no recourse except to file paperwork that would allow the other company to sue us. We spoke to a lawyer who told us a law suit would cost at least $10,000 a month. Being a small company, we had no option but to stop selling on eBay (or they were required by law to revoke our account).

Our business survived and thrived (though I'm sure we would have been profit able sooner if we had been able to continue to sell via eBay) in spite of the bad provision in this law. But imagine what would happen if the same thing happened, except not just to an eBay auction, to entire websites. Under SOPA, a competitor (or even just someone who doesn't like you) can file a false claim and get your entire website taken down. No due process, no court order, nothing!

This would not only spell disaster for me and my family, but also for my 6 employees and their families as well.

And this isn't just limited to businesses, under this proposed law it could happen to anyone. Check out this great link from Google for more information on this legislation and what you can do to help stop it.

As for me, I've taken down both my business and author websites ( today in protest.

(image source:

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