Hi all, I just wanted to post a short message explaining why our sites are "blacked out" on January 18, 2012.
Congress currently has two bills pending for upcoming votes: the Stop Online Piracy Act ("SOPA," in the House of Representatives) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act ("PIPA," in the Senate). Both are focused on allowing government and/or corporations to shut down web sites, including seizing domain names, freezing payment processors, and suing sites on which material that infringes copyrights is posted.
The intention is noble: to try to stop those who violate copyright laws by posting movies, music, books, and other copyrighted materials. Practically speaking, though, these laws at best fail to address that issue, and at worst, could cause gaping security holes by encouraging people to use insecure DNS servers and undermining the new DNSSEC protocol that is currently in development.
They also would place an enormous amount of leeway in the hands of the content industry--and industry that has proven again and again willing and eager to abuse its power--to have sites completely expunged from the Internet without any kind of due process. Sure, it might be done under the guise of protecting intellectual property, but in reality, it will frequently be used to squash any type of competition to the industry and do an end-run around new content delivery technologies to protects its existing outdated business model. The laws would also impose a high cost on running sites, as site owners who would now be liable for content uploaded to their sites would have to carefully vet any material before posting it.
These laws would pose an extremely high threat especially to sites such as the Titan Network because we primarily host user-generated content. If anyone posted so much as one infringing picture, the entire Titan Network could be taken down and we could be held personally liable, incurring costs that would bankrupt us, as well as being sent to jail simply for having the audacity of not wanting to spend hours every day having to manually approve everything anyone does.
What a lot of people do not realize is that there are already laws on the book that deal with copyright infringement. These laws have been made stricter and the penalties harsher for decades. Each time they were passed, the rationale was given that if the content industry had just a little more power, just a little more control, it could make great strides in curbing copyright infringement. We are being told the same thing with these bills, even though the content industry is making record profits. When will it stop? How much power and control is enough?
The Titan Network is not alone in this fight. In fact, we are really quite a small player when compared to other companies and organizations participating, such as Wikipedia, Google, Reddit, WordPress, and so on. Still, we feel it's very important to try to educate visitors to the site on this date not just by techno-geeky lectures, but by showing what the Internet will be like once these laws are passed. Also, we feel it's important to add our voice to the chorus of people and companies that oppose this legislation.
Here at the Titan Network, we deliberately try to avoid embracing various causes. But we simply felt that this one is too big to ignore. This is an issue that will directly impact our ability to provide a fun and useful site to the City of Heroes community. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience you are experiencing, but at the same time, we hope that the thought of this inconvenience being permanent will move some of you to read about this legislation and possibly even act by contacting your legislators who are considering these bills.
Our sites will return to normal functionality at or around midnight Eastern on January 19, 2012.