Today several large websites including Wikipedia, Wired.com and Craigslist thousands more have blacked out their websites in protest of the SOPA and PIPA bills that are making their way through congress right now.
In a nutshell, SOPA and PIPA are two bills that are trying to stop the piracy of copyrighted material (images, music, movies) which in theory is a good thing. You know what else works in theory, Communism…
Pirating music and movies is bad. We all know that, but with these two bills simple pictures, silly animated gifs and user created videos could put an entire site at risk of being blacklisted.
Why should you care
If these two bills are allowed to pass, sites with user submitted content would be at risk of being flagged as piracy. The result would be the loss of PayPal and other payment processors for the site as well as no search engine activity at all. Basically, sites like YouTube and Facebook would be deemed illegal and could be shut down completely.
Additionally, if you have comments on your site or if you have a forum attached to your site you could very well be held responsible for anything that your users add. For smaller sites this could be doable with minimum effort but for larger sites with hundreds of users this could be a full time job.
How you can help
Contact your representatives and senators and let them know your concerns about the bills. These bills have already been controversial so anything you can do to help push back against them would be great! Wikipedia has a great site to help you find your representatives: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:CongressLookup