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  1. Wikipedia and many other websites are unavailable today to protest and to educate about the dangers of two bills now being considered by the US Congress: PIPA and SOPA. The Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act both aim to reduce violations of copyright online. The problem is they do this by attacking First Amendment rights, removing judicial safeguards and placing huge amounts of power in the hands of copyright holders. The net effect of this would be to make it nearly impossible to run sites that allow user-posted content, such as LAVA. Under these bills, the volunteers who run LAVA would have to vet every post, check every VI uploaded, and somehow prove to their own satisfaction that the code posted really is clear of any copyright problems *before* they allowed other users to see the post. Why? Because the LAVA site would be legally liable if anyone in the world complained that their IP had been illegally posted, and the whole site, not just the offending post, could be blacklisted, without judicial review. The burden of proof is on LAVA. Even links to other sites would have to be vetted to make sure that they didn't link to a site that did not also have this sort of prior review. So today, I won't be answering any questions on LAVA or ni.com, and I am encouraging others to also not post content online (other than SOPA and PIPA discussions). Let today give the experience of a world as we had it before the World Wide Web made knowledge so easy to share. Let it be a call to action because these bills are not some abstract thing off in Washington DC, but legislation that would have a very real impact on the day-to-day operations of anyone doing tech support or relying on a community for help. The SOPA bill has been, for the moment, withdrawn by its authors, but they promise to bring it up later, presumably when the tech community isn't paying so much attention. PIPA is still being considered in the Senate. And although our current president has said he will not support these bills, there's no telling what the next president might do or whether Congress might override a veto. An excellent write up of these two bills is here, written by the Electronic Freedom Foundation: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/01/how-pipa-and-sopa-violate-white-house-principles-supporting-free-speech
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