Squarespace and SOPA: What You Need to Know

Squarespace and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)SOPA could mean the end of this blog. The Stop Online Piracy Act is meant to do just that, but instead creates a legal framework to shut down much of the Internet, including Squarespace websites everywhere... potentially even yours. Learn a few frightening facts about Squarespace and SOPA before this bill passes and it's too late.

A Brief SOPA History

Copyright holders have legal avenues to pursue U.S.-based online pirates, but don't have legal recourse against piracy occurring in other countries. SOPA was introduced in the House of Representatives in October 2011 as a means to give U.S. copyright holders a way to shut down foreign websites that infringe upon their intellectual property.

On the surface, SOPA sounds like a noble bill. But if you look into the details, it seems like Squarespace users should be afraid of SOPA and the unintended side-effects of this proposed bill.

A Closer Look at SOPA and Squarespace

Now, I'm by no means a legal expert, so take the following with a grain of salt. Reading through the text of SOPA, I can see why so many online companies are against the bill. While SOPA is meant to target foreign websites that engage in online piracy, it could end up taking down your Squarespace site, too. Consider the following taken from the Lanham Act and proposed SOPA bill:

The term `Internet site' means the collection of digital assets, including links, indexes, or pointers to digital assets, accessible through the Internet that are addressed relative to a common domain name...

The term "domain name" means any alphanumeric designation which is registered with or assigned by any domain name registrar ... as part of an electronic address on the Internet.

The term `domain name' ... includes any subdomain designation using such domain name.

Your Squarespace website may have a custom domain (e.g., BigPictureWeb.com), but it's also a subdomain of Squarespace.com.  You can read this blog by going to either BigPictureWeb.com or JLBraaten.Squarespace.com. In fact, every Squarespace website is a subdomain of Squarespace.com.  The horror of SOPA (and its U.S. Senate cousin, PIPA) begins to take shape when you consider that all Squarespace websites may be connected using the definitions in SOPA.

The Implosion of Squarespace and the Internet

If SOPA passes, imagine this scenario: A Squarespace user in the United Kingdom finds a clip of their favorite movie on YouTube and embeds it in their Squarespace blog, UKonlinepirate.Squarespace.com. The rights owner of the movie finds out and pursues legal action. The U.S. Attorney General orders Internet service providers to stop delivering web traffic to UKonlinepirate.Squarespace.com, and "any subdomain using such domain name." By definition, that would include every other Squarespace website too.

This is the fear of Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and nearly every other online giant. Google's Sergey Brin said SOPA would put the U.S. "on par with most oppressive nations of the world."

Squarespace's Official Stance on SOPA

Squarespace must share an equally pessimistic viewpoint of SOPA, as is evidenced by this recent Twitter conversation:

It's clear Squarespace is not a fan of SOPA. I'd take that as a cue that Squarespace users shouldn't be a fan of SOPA either.

Squarespacers Unite Against SOPA

Act before it's too late. Congress is expected to begin debating on SOPA in late January and vote on it shortly thereafter. Don't let your voice be unheard. Write your Representative and Senator  and tell them you oppose SOPA and PIPA.

As a proponent for Internet freedom, I oppose SOPA. As Squarespace users, the future of our websites may depend on SOPA's defeat.