I like megandowntherabbithole to revolve around art and design, not to be a soapbox for my personal political views. However, there’s an important issue out there that should matter to you no matter where on the political spectrum you fall.
Did you notice something yesterday? Wikipedia was blacked out. Popular sites like WordPress, Mozilla, Reddit, icanhascheezburger, Pinterest and most impressively Google were either fully or partially blacked out and had links to contact your local representatives and demand they vote NO on SOPA/PIPA. Maybe you saw the many posts and shares on Facebook and Twitter of people who had already signed a petition, urging you to do the same. Even some small independent bloggers had their sites blacked out for the day in protest (this one included). But what is everyone so up in arms about?
SOPA and PIPA are two pieces of legislation making their way through Congress that you should educate yourself on. Backed mostly by the entertainment industry, these bills would give the American government the right to shut down any site accused of hosting, or even linking to, sites than infringe on copyrighted content. Do you have a blog? Well, if someone commented on your blog and included a link to copyrighted content, your site could be immediately shut down, and you would face heavy fines. Faced with the burden of policing their own content, many sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and more would have to shut down. Sites like Google would be banned from listing offending sites, or face penalties themselves. While the entertainment industry and the bill’s supporters claim that these fears are overblown, most internet companies and people who actually understand how the internet operates know that we’d be opening Pandora’s box for censorship, giving the government the freedom to shut down any site they want without due process, placing the burden and cost of proving your innocence on YOU.
I’m not condoning piracy at all. As an artist and designer, the last thing I want is for my work to get stolen. BUT giving just a few people the power to police the entire internet is terrifying and a little too 1984 for my liking. In ten years do we want to be looking back and reminiscing “remember how cool the internet USED to be?”
You DO have a voice. Over 4.5 MILLION people signed Google’s petition yesterday. Several of SOPA’s supporters in Congress have already backed down because of the backlash. If you enjoy a free, open, and unsensored internet as we know it, please contact your local representative and let them know you’re against these bills.