Tomorrow only readers will see a small change in our site — load any Art Fag City URL and a splash will appear asking you to sign a petition protesting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its sister in the senate, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Those are bills that, if passed, would give the US government unprecedented options for shutting down sites that are suspected of “engaging in, enabling or facilitating” copyright infringement. SOPA, in particular, would, among ohter things, allow the government to delete authoritative DNS records and force your ISP to give your computer false DNS information if you request a suspected site. (For the full primer, read Will Brand’s excellent summary of SOPA and discussion of net artist Paul Garrin’s work.)
If you surf the web tomorrow, you’ll likely notice that ours isn’t the only site that looks like this. Wikipedia, Reddit, and our colleagues over at Rhizome will being going dark tomorrow in protest of the bill. Scribd and Google will also be participating in the protest.
For our part, Art Fag City and Hyperallergic will run this pop-up to help spread awareness about these bills and try to stop them. Our hope is that many of the city’s larger arts institutions will also participate; culture is their business and this bill will directly affect the artists they show and the work they do. Online piracy is a problem we can address without turning the Internet into a police state.