Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wikipedia's SOPA Blackout

Image Source: A Creative Revolution

Well, English Wikipedia is blacked out today in protest of the potential passage of the PIPA ("Protect IP Act") and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act") bills being considered by the US Senate and House of Representatives. What do the bills (which would be combined if passed in their respective chambers) entail, you may ask? Well, they give copyright holders the power to censor the Internet.

SOPA, while a US law, has dramatic effects for Canada. This is not only because Canada - in the long-run - tends to follow suite with America's copyright policy, but because a lot of sites written by Canadians (including The Winnipeg RAG Review) are hosted by American companies. Blogger might just start shutting down infringing blogs under lawsuit threats due to SOPA. All it takes is one over-zealous critic to claim that this blog links to a site which has pirated material or has a comment in which someone links to pirated material to result in a preemptive shutdown by a nervous, self-censoring, web company. So is the peril many Canadian blogs are in thanks to SOPA and PIPA. 

SOPA is a potential online disaster thinly veiled as an American issue, but the ramifications of such censorship will certainly stretch north of the border. Michael Geist of the Toronto Star reveals how the U.S. could claim Canadian domain names in the millions.

"First, it defines a 'domestic domain name' as a domain name 'that is registered or assigned by a domain name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority, that is located within a judicial district of the United States,' explains Geist. "Since every dot-com, dot-net and dot-org domain is managed by a domain name registry in the U.S., the law effectively asserts jurisdiction over tens of millions of domain names regardless of where the registrant actually resides."

To put this in context, Canadian Internet providers rely on the Americas Registry for Internet Numbers, an U.S. allocation entity known as ARIN. Its territorial reach includes Canada, the U.S. and 20 Caribbean nations. Amending this bill will effectively treat all IP addresses within this reach as "domestic for U.S. law purposes."

"The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and what it means for Canadians". Chase Kell. The Right Click. Dec. 20, 2011.

For more information on SOPA/PIPA, you can visit American Censorship.


  1. Good and brief explanation on domain name registry. Now only I have got it. Thanks for sharing...

  2. This is a very interesting article. To me, everything where people use (on masses) there is no shortage of people trying to limit access or try to pull some type of corporate BS that will try to restrict free access. i think its anyone who believes in freedom must oppose these type of vague bills that try to limit the internet. A free internet has contributed greatly to society and remains the "truest" form or media (in my opinion) and that needs to be salvaged.