| Today, many sites are going dark in protest of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act, Bill H.R. 3261 in the House) and its Senate counterpart, PIPA (Protect IP Act, S. 968).
Gizmodo has an excellent description of the bill and its potential consequences. Craftzine/Make has issued a wonderful letter that shares their opinions on it. The gist of it is simple: If any Intellectual Property Owner doesn’t like the way their content is being used by another party, they can quickly and easily remove that site from search results, prevent payments and advertising to them and block their domain. The oversight of these actions is a joke, effectively letting the companies with the largest legal fund own the Internet and control what you see.
We don’t use Bikerumor for a political platform often. Ever, really, except to promote bicycle advocacy. But here’s why this matters to us. We occasionally post leaked documents, spy shots and press images before they’ve been officially released by their manufacturer. It’s not a stretch to imagine one of the big companies could use SOPA to claim we have illegally used their copyrighted intellectual property and seek to get Bikerumor shut down. Likewise, a competing media outlet could do they same if they felt our writers inappropriately referenced their articles.
And it’s not just us. This could affect any website, whether it covers cycling, technology, fashion or, most importantly, political and financial news.
While none of us imagine anyone in our wonderful industry would do such a thing, the concern is that they could. And they could do it all too easily.
As an entrepreneur, I believe market forces should steer the Internet. I believe in free markets and capitalism. I do not believe competition (or lack there of) should be mandated by government policy. Especially when that policy is all but written by the very companies it serves to benefit the most. These bills effectively suppress competition and crush small businesses.
If you enjoy the variety of viewpoints Bikerumor and other websites and blogs offer, I encourage you to email your Senators and Representatives and tell them to abandon SOPA and PIPA. Even President Obama and the White House do not support the current draft.
Tyler Benedict, Founder & Editor
Now, back to your regularly scheduled bike news.