Across the web, large and small sites are joining together to voice their objections to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Wikipedia and Reddit are going dark while many others are posting messages of opposition. 

At Shopify we strongly believe that SOPA and PIPA will negatively impact innovation across the Internet. That is why we have posted a message linking to this post in the admin dashboard of all our Shopify stores. Over 15,000 store owners use Shopify to run their business and these bills will impact all of them, whether inside or outside the U.S.

We don't usually poke our noses into political debates. Our job is to create the best ecommerce software, not lobby governments. However, we feel that this issue is too important for us to stay silent.

What's so bad about SOPA and PIPA? The video below, created by Fight for the Future, does a much better job of explaining it than we ever could:

Another great resource for information on the impact of these bills is the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) recent post. The White House has issued a statement against the sort of proposals included in SOPA and PIPA, but that doesn't mean the battle has been won.

What could it mean for Shopify store owners? It's never easy to predict how these bills will be used in the real world, but there are provisions that could specifically affect ecommerce sites. One such provision is the Corporate Right of Action, according to the EFF article linked above:

"PIPA and SOPA also still allow copyright holders to get an unopposed court order to cut off foreign websites from payment processors and advertisers. As we have continually highlighted, copyright holders already can remove infringing material from the web under the DMCA notice-and-takedown procedure."

This means that a copyright holder can get a court order to have a payment gateway refuse payments, without the store being able to defend itself.

What can you do? The EFF provides information on how Americans can take action against SOPA and PIPA. If you're outside the U.S., be aware that similar legislation is being proposed in many other countries. Most of all, you can make sure that as many people as possible are aware of bills like SOPA and PIPA so that they can voice their opinion.