As of right now, if you visit Tumblr you won’t find the typical stream of animated gifs, blog posts, and videos – but rather a page of big gray CENSOR bars. Tumblr is drawing attention to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is being discussed today in a hearing in the U.S. House judiciary committee. This bill along with the PROTECT IP Act represent Congress’ current attempts to curb piracy in the United States.
On its face, the legislation would provide some power to combat the problem of foreign websites that house large amounts of copyrighted material by allowing them to be “blacklisted” through ISPs. Of course, the danger is that the law could potentially be even farther reaching than that. Tumblr certainly has reason to be concerned, as does YouTube and other user-generated content sites that contain copyrighted as well as original material. And as do the Internet companies who would have to follow potentially strict government regulations about what kind of websites and content they can support.
This video from Fight For the Future is a fairly good explanation of what many people are scared could happen.
Though various advocacy groups and websites have been covering this issue a lot in the past week especially, the move by Tumblr to force some awareness on the part of its users is a big attention-getting move. (Though do note that all you need do to get back to your regularly scheduled tumbling is to click on the link – you don’t have to take any further action.)