Today is a blackout day for crowdsourced information site Wikipedia as well as crowdsourced time wasting site Reddit in order to inform people of and protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. These sites, and others, are doing what they can to keep the internet an ethereal place for free communication. There’s a lot to be said about SOPA, and it’s sister bill PIPA, but those sites and others will be much more informative than this blog. (EDIT: Consumerist is devoting the day to articles on SOPA.) The short of it is this: The acts would give the media companies the power to contact internet service providers and basically block any site that they see is violating their copyright in any way. An example of such would be Monster Cables’ attempt to shutdown Craigslist because someone used the site to try to sell his old Monster brand cables. If passed, SOPA would give Monster that power.
While the venom spewed at the bill is justified from my point of view, I want to take a moment to explain that some of the arguments people are expressing against SOPA don’t work. Mainly that our internet usage is a fundamental freedom. It’s not. The internet is privilege, and its remaining this free for so long has been an honest, amazing blessing. What people don’t get about the bill that makes it so frightening is that none of this was ever guaranteed to those of us on the user end, and the passage of the bill would only serve to define this chaotic world that we’ve taken for granted. And while we would see it as a horrible wrong, they would be within their rights. Unfortunately, to ensure that our usage becomes a fundamental freedom, we need to see this through. Only in the bill’s defeat can we have legislation that guarantees us anything at all.
But I don’t know how strong my faith is in things turning out well. Right now we can only hope for the best.