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Announcement: Raw Story to go dark on January 18 to protest SOPA/PIPA

By Roxanne Cooper
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 10:32 EDT
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The news doesn’t stop. But if Congress passes the Stop Online Piracy Act or the Protect Intellectual Property Act, your access to it could — and the owners and publisher of Raw Story won’t stand for that. In protest of Congress’ interest in passing the legislation, Raw Story will join with sites like BoingBoing, Reddit, Wikipedia and IMGUR and black out from 8 am ET until 8 pm ET tomorrow, just to demonstrate what the government could end up doing to Americans in service of corporate interests (and their political donations and lobbying dollars).

Raw Story is, as always, a small, privately-owned company, so we understand uniquely the problems caused by people who reprint our articles without permission or attribution, taking the intellectual property of our company and our employees without so much as a pageview in return. But our reporting has shown, time and again, that neither SOPA nor PIPA will help small companies like ours do much, if anything, to combat the theft of our intellectual property — heck, even the movie industry can’t say that its profits are actually down, despite rampant piracy. SOPA/PIPA is simply a cudgel supported by large, corporate interests who would rather spend money lobbying for outmoded legislation intended to stall the internet’s engine for change rather than learning a new way to operate in a modern world.

But even worse than SOPA/PIPA doing nothing to help us assert our rights, the legislation could actually harm our small company and interfere with our mission to provide readers with news ignored by the mainstream media — like, ironically, the harm that could be wrought by SOPA/PIPA. In an online environment regulated by this corporate-designed legislation, one commenter, even a sock puppet, posting copyrighted material in a comment thread that isn’t immediately set upon by our dedicated volunteer comment moderation team, and Raw Story could go dark — even permanently. That should be unacceptable to anyone who uses the Internet, including our elected officials… but somehow it’s not.

Going dark is a radical step for an online-only news organization, and it is one that Raw Story’s management doesn’t take lightly. It wasn’t easy to tell our reporters and editors to take time off tomorrow and pretend that the news isn’t happening. But we’d rather tell them to take tomorrow easy and come back twice as strong on Thursday than have to tell them later that the government pulled the plug on our whole organization because of SOPA/PIPA — on which we once reported as though it didn’t affect us as much as our readers.

If you’re as concerned as we are, there’s something you can do, too. Click here to find and email your Representative (use the little envelope icon that appears to the right of the picture) and here to find and email your Senators (use the “Web form” link). Tell them you don’t support SOPA/PIPA or the politicians who do, and ask them to vote against the legislation if given the opportunity.

[Locked internet via Shutterstock.com]

Roxanne Cooper
Roxanne Cooper is the publisher of Raw Story. She has 20+ years experience in media management, marketing, and advertising and has held positions with AlterNet, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, LA Weekly, San Francisco Bay Guardian, and Stars & Stripes. From 2004-2008, Roxanne published the popular political blog Rox Populi. She lives in San Francisco and you can follow her on Twitter at @AlterRox.
 
 
 
 
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