...as a preview of what could happen to it, and potentially thousands of other websites large and small, if two internet censorship bills pass the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
These bills, the so-called Protect Intellectual Property Act, or "PIPA" (S. 968) in the Senate, and the corresponding so-called Stop Online Piracy Act, "SOPA" (H.R.3261) in the House, were crafted and pushed on the legislature by the powerful, moneyed entertainment industry, which apparently has the U.S. Congress in its back pocket.
The bills give them (the entertainment industry) the ability to have websites taken down, most likely permanently, just by accusing them of "infringement".
In its worst form (SOPA), an accusation of "infringement" by one of the companies could result in my domain being confiscated, my IP address blacklisted, and, if they want to press it, my finances frozen.
This is based just on accusation, not proof, with little or no judicial oversight and little if any hope of recourse.
It gives the big money entertainment giants unprecidented power to take down any site they don't like.
It also opens the door to government censorship of the internet.
All that has to happen is for one of the entertainment giants, or their armies of lawyers and image sniffing robots, to find a single image on Lines and Colors that they consider an "infringement" (say an image of concept art from a movie by Disney or Warner Brothers).
They only have to accuse me of infringement, not prove it. It's guilty until proven innocent, with little chance of getting my side heard.
It doesn't matter if the image is covered by the "fair use" provision of the U.S. copyright law, or even if it's in the public domain, all it takes is the accusation.
Sites can even be shut down and confiscated for linking to sites the companies think are infringing.
The SOPA bill has been temporarily watered down by removing the most egregious provision, one that would require the falsification of the web's DNS system to redirect requests to sites they can't confiscate (those in other countries).
This threatens the technical foundation of the internet itself, by weakening the Domain Name Server System, and opens it to a host of seturity vulnerabilities.
Even the White House has come out against that, but the removal of the provision is just to get the bill passed initially against overwhelming opposition by the public, technical experts, web sites and web based companies of all kinds. They'll be back to push it through later.
Though the SOPA version in the House is worse, the Senate version, The Protect IP Act, is bad enough, and is up for a vote first.
Both must be stopped to protect the internet, and free speech, as we know it.
Longtime readers of Lines and Colors know I'm not prone to hyperbole and hand-wringing, or overt political activism within the pages of the blog. I'm fighting for the ability of Lines and Colors, and other sites like it, to continue to exist.
Only overwhelming opposition by voters can counter the influence of the big entertainment corporations.
Lines and Colors will be back tomorrow.