As the anti-SOPA/PIPA-prompted blackout affects many part of the web today, do take the 13 minutes it takes to watch media commentator Clay Shirky explain why SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) are a “nuclear” assault on the average citizen’s democratic rights. As Shirky puts it:
The real threat to the enactment of PIPA and SOPA is our ability to share things with one another. What PIPA and SOPA risk doing is taking a centuries-old legal concept—innocent until proven guilty—and reversing it—guilty until proven innocent. “You can’t share until you show us that you are not sharing something we don’t like.” Suddenly the burden of proof for legal vs illegal falls affirmatively on us and on the services that might be offering us any new capabilities. And if it costs even a dime to police a user, that will crush a service with a hundred million users.
This is a cogent, clear, well-reasoned version of the argument from the anti-SOPA movement, and it’s one that we need to understand and act upon. As Shirky concludes,
Time Warner has called. They want us all back on the couch, just consuming, not producing, not sharing. We should say no.