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How SOPA Anti-Piracy Bill Could Affect Nonprofits

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A number of high-profile websites, including Wikipedia and Reddit, have shut down Wednesday to protest proposed anti-piracy legislation, and some experts say that nonprofits could benefit from joining the “blackout.”

The SOPA Strike is protesting the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill that aims to put a stop to selling pirated or counterfeit goods. While the bill would protect movie studios and record labels, websites accused of copyright infringement could get shut down with neither a trial nor a traditional court hearing.

Experts say that these bills may impose suffocating costs and censorship, to which nonprofits would not be immune.

If a nonprofit's site was cited under SOPA, it may also hurt visibility online. Content that could potentially be cited under SOPA includes infringing-looking links, according to AmericanCensorship.org. This would result in blocked web traffic and ad revenue.

It's simply not a necessary precaution, nonprofit Public Knowledge asserts, stating on its site that the bill simply doesn't actually do enough to justify its existence.

"To make it worse, SOPA is ineffective. So the question is, is an ineffective bill worth the risk of damaging free speech and the functioning of the Internet? We say no."

The real toll for nonprofits may come in the way of donations. SOPA would block suspicious sites' DNS servers, which translate .com names into IP addresses. But messing with DNS servers could directly affect a nonprofit's donation process, as interfering with these servers makes a site more vulnerable to identity theft, and cyberattacks, according to Public Knowledge

Global Voices, an international volunteer community of citizen journalists, has published 75,000 posts in the last six years in more than 20 languages. The organization is “going dark” for 12 hours Wednesday to demonstrate its opposition to the bills.

“We rely on the open Internet to carry out our mission,” Global Voices wrote on its website. “We are concerned this law would will inflict broad damage on the work of digital activists living under repressive regimes, as well as restrict basic speech freedoms around the world.”

For more information on the SOPA and PIPA Acts, click here. Or visit Public Knowledge to spread the word online or create your own fundraiser.

CORRECTION: This story originally attributed information from Public Knowledge to Razoo. Razoo simply hosts Public Knowledge's fundraising page. The post has been updated to reflect the change.

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