By Cory Doctorow
at 4:08 pm Saturday, Jan 14
On January 18, Boing Boing will join Reddit
and other sites around the Internet in "going dark" to oppose SOPA and PIPA
, the pending US legislation that creates a punishing Internet censorship regime and exports it to the rest of the
world. Boing Boing could never co-exist with a SOPA world: we could not ever link to another website unless we were sure
that no links to anything that infringes copyright appeared on that site. So in order to link to a URL on LiveJournal or
WordPress or Twitter or Blogspot, we'd have to first confirm that no one had ever made an infringing link, anywhere on
that site. Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages, just to be sure that we
weren't in some way impinging on the ability of five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global
publishers to maximize their profits.
If we failed to take this precaution, our finances could be frozen, our ad broker forced to pull ads from our site, and
depending on which version of the bill goes to the vote, our domains confiscated, and, because our server is in Canada,
our IP address would be added to a US-wide blacklist that every ISP in the country would be required to censor.
This is the part of the post where I'm supposed to say something reasonable like, "Everyone agrees that piracy is wrong,
but this is the wrong way to fight it."
But you know what? Screw that.
Even though a substantial portion of my living comes from the entertainment industry, I don't think that any amount of "piracy" justifies this kind of depraved indifference to the consequences of one's actions. Big Content
haven't just declared war on Boing Boing and Reddit and the rest of the "fun" Internet: they've declared war on every
person who uses the net to publicize police brutality
, every oppressed person in the Arab Spring
who used the net to organize protests and publicize the blood spilled by their oppressors, every abused kid
who used the net to reveal her father as a brutalizer of children, every gay kid who used the net to discover that life is worth living
despite the torment she's experiencing, every grassroots political campaigner
who uses the net to make her community a better place -- as well as the scientists who collaborate online, the rescue
workers who coordinate online, the makers who trade tips online, the people with rare diseases who support each other
online, and the independent creators who use the Internet to earn their livings.
The contempt for human rights on display with SOPA and PIPA is more than foolish. Foolishness can be excused. It's more
than greed. Greed is only to be expected. It is evil, and it must be fought.
is compiling a list of sites that are also going dark for Jan 18. If you want an Internet where human rights, free
speech and the rule of law are not subordinated to the entertainment industry's profits, I hope you'll join us on it.