Today, the internet is staging a protest against internet censorship. SOPA and PIPA, 2 bills in (the US) congress right now that are superficially about stopping internet piracy. I’m all for stopping internet piracy*. It’s not the what, it’s the how. If these bills pass, websites that host any sort of copyrighted information can be shut down. That means that most of our blogs would be shut down too. WITHOUT DUE PROCESS, A RIGHT GUARANTEED TO US BY THE US CONSTITUTION. Not this one, yet, because I haven’t yet posted a picture, but seriously. I don’t usually get involved in politics: too much drama, too much information, etc. But this is really important, and so I’m going to say something.
The thing is that these laws aren’t really going to stop piracy – people who download things illegally will find a way around these too. They always do. But SOPA and PIPA WILL stop massive outpourings of creativity and free speech on the internet. And that is just absolutely wrong. The global economy is built on the ability of people to use the internet to distribute ideas. Anything that stops that is a bad thing. The US is supposed to be “land of the free” and SOPA and PIPA will deny us of that to an unprecidented magnitude. Additionally, if something of this sort were being considered abroad (in China or Russia, for example), the US would be condemning it – but it’s happening right here, and that’s not only scary, it’s incredibly hypocritical.
So while I’m not blacking out my blog, because I’m technically challenged today, and I’m not writing a long, in depth post because I’m miserably sick, and others have done much better than I can, I did want to use the tiny platform that I have here to urge you to learn about the bills (see links below) and if you’re in the US and so inclined, call your representatives, and if you’re feeling up for a challenge, call representatives from other districts and states as well. Phone calls are more effective than email. I’m sick, have almost no voice, and suffer from severe telephobia (the very idea of calling anyone on the phone can make me physically ill and cause mental breakdowns) but I called my representatives. If I can do it, so can you.
So that’s it, nothing witty, nothing profound, just a call to learn about a very important issue that needs to be addressed, and act accordingly. Below are a bunch of links (and feel free to add more in the comments) discussing PIPA and SOPA, protesting the bills, and giving us the contact information our lawmakers.
The high profile protests are:
Wikipedia which has blacked out all English Language pages, and has a great tool that will allow you to look up your congresswomen and congressmen, along with their phone numbers and emails.
But there are some other amazing protests as well:
One of my favorite webcomics, xkcd, has a protest and some really great resources that I haven’t linked to below.
Some other good resources are: (and this is a VERY small selection – mostly from links that people I know have been sending around – this is by no means an exhaustive list, and isn’t claiming to be. It’s just some articles that I have read.)
And this is an issue that both Democrats AND Republicans agree on, as indicated by this conservative Heritage Foundation webpage – or as my friend put it “I must be hallucinating or something: My Republican friends and my Democrat friends are agreeing on something political!”
So do your part: learn about the bills if you haven’t already, and if you feel strongly about it, call your representatives in congress and urge them to stop these bills.
<steps down from soapbox>
*My personal opinion is credit where credit is due. I always pay for music and movies. I have never downloaded anything illegally in my life, partially because it’s against the rules (and I’m a stickler for rules), but also on principle. People put effort and money into these things and if we don’t pay to consume it, then the quality and quantity goes down, significantly. Besides, if you create something and want to be paid for it, you should be. That doesn’t stop me from listening to a song on youtube. But if I like it, I’ll absolutely go and buy it. But the internet does a great job of promoting free transmittance of information, and if that stops, the consequences are unimaginable.
EDITED TO ADD: This video done by the Khan Academy (which if you haven’t found yet you should, because it is fantastic) is a GREAT explanation of why these bills are incredibly dangerous and a violation of everything the internet is.