The story forges on, with a little fan service and some free advice. Don’t eat shit you find in the woods. Also, don’t eat shit, as in poop.

Yesterday saw one of the largest concerted efforts in the history of the Internet, with the blackout to protest SOPA. At least I think it was. Internet history is longer than you think. Wikipedia and Reddit were both down for more than 12 hours. Google blanked out its logo. I’m not sure the world could survive a 12 hour shutdown of Google. I also noticed a significant push in information sharing via blogs and social networks (Facebook and Twitter remained up). Friends who I didn’t know cared about these issues posted several good links.

You might think that, since you don’t own a website and don’t pirate music or movies, this doesn’t affect you. You might think piracy is generally a bad thing. Most people agree that it is, but this bill will have wide reaching affects on nearly every website you enjoy, including YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, and any other site that allows users to upload content. This comic will be in danger should SOPA pass into law.

I’m not a legal expert, but this is what I understand from my reading.

The definition of SOPA declares any website that facilitates users to infringe on copyright works to be actionable. The law tries to sound like it intends to fight only dedicated infringing sites, but the terms are so broad as to apply to any site that allows users to upload anything. And of course it still applies to sites that might use copyright material in their work. Webcomics like Smashing Avatar should be protected by fair use (mainly for satire), but it will still be a dark age for us.

The biggest problem is that SOPA takes a view of guilty until proven innocent, and stacks the deck in favor of the copyright owners. A copyright owner can file a claim against a site, notifying payment providers and ad networks to shut off services within 5 days, without proof or litigation of any kind. They don’t even have to notify the site owner! And if the site owner attempts to follow the process to stop this, they open themselves up to a lawsuit to which they will be liable the legal fees, and possible perjury charges should they lose. If they don’t fight it, they essentially lose the domain.

Suddenly everyone needs to be much more careful about what they post on the Internet, and comics making fun of the demeaning quality certain princess wearing a metal bikini are no longer worth the risk. Even if we took down all of the comics that make use of copyrights through fair use, we might still be at risk because of the comments section. Webcomics with forums might want to shut those down too. Larger websites might be able to keep up with the potential legal risks, but even they would be forced to impose strict limitations. The Internet as an open community for information sharing would simply cease to exist.

Indifferent? Unconcerned? Terrified? Crap your pants? Let us know what you think on Facebook or Twitter.