For those who’ve missed all the shouting in certain circles of the web, today is the day the web goes on strike. At least here in the US, where our congress critters are considering two bills that, quite frankly, should scare everyone who publishes content online.
The proposed laws, as do many these days, have somewhat Orwellian names: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). I mean, who wouldn’t want to join either of those worthy causes?
Well, take a few minutes to watch this video about the many unintended consequences that are likely to come with the vaguely written, open-ended PIPA (SOPA is only slightly different in language but not in the mechanics), primarily written by representatives of the big content producers, the MPAA and RIAA.
PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.
All that, and neither will stop people who really want to illegally distribute copyrighted content.
In addition to violating any number of Constitutional rights, these laws would have an enormous chilling effect on legitimate fair use of copyrighted material as well as the diversity of speech so badly needed in the world today.
Both laws also start with some very false premises (such as piracy is costing the US billions of dollars and millions of jobs), as explained by Tim O’Reilly.
Take a look around the web today and you’ll find many sites have gone dark in opposition to SOPA and PIPAÂ (including Wikipedia, Reddit, Mozilla, WordPress, and several thousand others). I’m sure many people who have never heard of SOPA or PIPA will notice as they try to go about their normal web surfing.
However, although I thought about doing the same – taking this site dark (despite being a very, very small corner of the web) – I’m an educator and it seems to me that helping anyone who arrives here, by design or accident, understand the issues is a more effective way of making the point. Same idea, different style. Thus this post you are now reading (thank you!).
However, no matter which process makes you aware of the situation, as a web user, and probably a web content creator, it’s important to understand just how dangerous this kind of legislation is and why it’s in your best interest to actively oppose it.
Take a few more minutes today to contact your congress critter. Tell them to throw out this crap (be nice :-) and instead work on rules that support genuine net neutrality and fair use.
Then spend a few dollars and join the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organization that has been a leader in the fight against this and other attempts to censor voices and ideas around the world.
I contemplated not saying anything on our website, and just adding a few links to Wikpedia articles. Let people find out naturally. Kudos to you for spreading the word.