“Why was Google blacked out yesterday?” ”Did I hear that Wikipedia is down?” ”Why didn’t SHH post anything on WordPress yesterday?” The last question could be answered with either protest or sloth… The real answer to these questions is that these websites, along with a number of others, protested against the passage of SOPA and PIPA.
A week ago I would have told you that SOPA is something I use to clean my ass and PIPA is a royal sister-in-law. I had heard mutterings from friends regarding internet regulation and pending legislation, but had not yet put two and two together and/or wrote it off as paranoia. SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) are two proposed laws by the Senate and House respectively to be considered for passage by Congress as early as January 24th 2012!
What are they and why are they so awful? With these laws, the federal government will essentially gag free speech on the internet, impose ridiculous regulation on website managers and begin to charge for all of the free information and media that we have become accustomed to.
I never expect to get anything for free. I understood when Napster got targeted for the sharing of free music. I’m sure it pisses the Feds off to no end that offshore websites provide a loophole so that Americans can watch movies and television shows or download music for free. Some of us are more guilty than others in this respect, but, I do understand that concern. However, these laws are just poorly written, and though they may or may not have been benevolently conceived, they will wreak havoc on the Internet as we know it today.
As creator of this blog, it has never been my intention to share/pirate files or give my readers anything other than my insignificant opinion. I have always wanted to expose people to new things that get them excited about it on their own, be it an album, movie worth seeing in theaters, or a new restaurant or beer to try. I can tell you that I personally use websites like wikipedia.org, imdb.com, goodreads.com, allmusic.com and beeradvocate.com, among countless other sites on a regular basis as knowledge banks for accessible research. I like having answers at my fingertips because I’m always asking [stupid] questions.
The President has made public that he will veto SOPA if it passes for revision, but that only buys some time. Wikipedia North America shared a link yesterday which determined your local legislator by zip code and encouraged you to write or call to voice your opinion. I will be drafting a letter to Paul Tonko, my local representative, to outline my concerns and I suggest that you subscribers should do the same to your own respective legislators.
Save the Internet!