SOPA/PIPA blackout

((I know some don't like political stuff here in RERN, myself included, but I think it deserves a mention))

If you haven't heard already, some sites will be blacking out today in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) legislation. Though this is just US Legislation, allowing this to pass may lead the way to having similar legislation passing in other countries.

What is SOPA & PIPA? I'll give you a basic rundown (and correct me if my info isn't right)
SOPA is an attempt to combat online piracy by shutting down "rogue websites" that allow you to download copyrighted material, and links to said material. While the intent seems benign, the implementation is most accurately described as stopping a robbery by leveling the entire neighborhood.
PIPA is similar, where sites can be ordered to remove any and all copyrighted content, and the sites hosting said content would be blocked by their domain name (though they could still be accessed if you put their IP address in the address bar).

What kinds of effects would it have?
Want to make an AMV? too bad, the video is copyrighted, and so is the music playing the background.
Fan art? Copyrighted characters, sorry.
Movie review? Purchased rights to host that content? No? BLOCKED.
Favorite band logo as avatar/profile picture? NOPE.
Want to host a new concept or original work on a site? Sorry, they don't want to run the risk of hosting possibly copyrighted material on their site and get blocked.
Youtube, Facebook, DeviantArt, Flickr, Imgur, Twitter? Blocked due to hosting illegal content.

Why is this so bad?
1. The language of SOPA and PIPA is so broad that the above, seemingly extreme, outcomes are quite possible.
2. Businesses and corporations will have a bigger hand in government functions, and essentially have the control to unleash the ban-hammer on anyone they want, using the vague guidelines of SOPA and PIPA as an excuse, even killing off any competitors or whistle-blowers
3. (For those not in the US)Monkey see, monkey do. If even the US is doing it, then that means we could possibly do it here as well.

I personally feel a chill run down my spine when I think about my government getting more and more infected by people whose top priority is the 'almighty dollar.' It's legislative napalm, and a borderline violation of the first amendment. Hm... I remember something in the Oath of Office I took when I commissioned... I think it was somewhere along the lines of " and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies foreign and domestic..."

What can I do about it?
US Citizen: Write your senators and house representatives (if you can. I've tried twice, but each time I get an error... I hope they've just been flooded with so many messages that their inboxes crashed, and not an attempt to censor the opposition)
Non-US Citizen: Get the word out. Talk to your embassy, the best weapon against something like this is communication. If people know, it's much harder to have the wool pulled over their eyes.

Have any other information you'd like to share? Tell us. I'd like to learn more.
SOPA and PIPA are amazingly broad "solutions" to what is an incredibly delicate problem.

Of course, I'm saying that with the assumption that their goals are what they say they are. It's fairly obvious that the big item on this bill's agenda is to increase the influence private corporations have over public space, but they'll say whatever it takes to get people on its side. I remember that for a brief while, either SOPA or PIPA was being advertised as a "jobs bill" -- they were legitimately trying to pretend that they would create or secure more jobs for Americans by more tightly guarding intellectual property rights. I think that kind of desperate disingenuity speaks volumes about their true intentions.

Whatever your stance on piracy, this bill is not the answer. It penalizes the average consumer heavily, while remaining blissfully unaware of the facts vis a vis their stated targets or their methods.

Demand Progress is an excellent hub for learning about SOPA, PIPA, and related initiatives, as well as an easy method of accessing petitions and sending messages to relevant parties. If you're interested in this sort of thing, I'd recommend a visit.
While this has nothing to do with the blackout itself, I feel I should bring this to everyone's attention.

Megaupload has been taken off the net, and its head staff are being indicted for violating various piracy laws.

I feel this kind of extreme (and frankly draconian) action is a good sign of things to come.