You may have noticed that many websites are shut down and blacked out today. We considered doing something similar but decided against it, since we didn’t want to penalize anyone who needed access to their campaigns in order to do last minute prep for their game. But, rather than sidestep the issue, we wanted to add our voice to the choir calling for action against the PIPA/SOPA bills in the U.S. Congress. Here’s a video that explains it much better than I can, but if you’re interested in how it affects Obsidian Portal directly, read on.
How does it affect Obsidian Portal?
Basically, PIPA/SOPA would give too many people the tools to shut down Obsidian Portal for suspected copyright violations. If someone posted a copyrighted image in their campaign, or copied some text out of a book and pasted it on a wiki page, the entire website could be removed from Google, and technically other websites would be legally obliged to stop linking to us as well. In order to protect against this, we, the Obsidian Portal staff would need to police and monitor everything posted. There’s way too few of us to do that, and we’d rather not try to decide what should and shouldn’t be posted. We’re not copyright lawyers and we won’t pretend to be. Nor are we censors and we don’t want to be.
Maybe we’re small enough that we could fly under the radar, but I kind of doubt it. Most people outside of the RPG community understand Obsidian Portal even less than they understand tabletop RPGs. They think Obsidian Portal is an online game or some kind of strange forum. More importantly, most don’t really care to understand what it is. It’s just something weird. To me, that means many people would have no problem shutting us down if they thought they had a reason, and SOPA gives them the tools to do just that.
If you don’t like the idea of Obsidian Portal (and your campaigns) suddenly disappearing due to misguided, overly-zealous attempts at anti-piracy, then we urge you to contact your congressional representatives. The Fight for the Future Anti-SOPA page is a great place to get started. Together we can make sure the Internet remains a home for self expression, free speech, and great campaign stories.