Many sites are taking today off to strike against SOPA/PIPA, in an attempt to foreshadow what sort of Mad Max-ian dystopia we would be left with online if websites were blacklisted on the say so of entities who's Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) had been allegedly violated. And I do mean allegedly, under the current versions of SOPA/PIPA action is taken against sites claimed to be violating IPR, or even supporting the violation of IPR, on the say so of the accuser. While they may be "innocent" until proven guilty, the US government is ok cutting off payments to presumed innocent sites purely on the word of IPR holders, because the RIAA and MPAA have never shown themselves to be the judicial equivalents of schoolyard bullies.
However, as one of my Facebook friends pointed out, how much of a difference will it make if I black myself out online? If I were to put The Middle on strike I would have to purposefully link to it for more than one or two people to notice that it was down. I suppose I might get a little more attention not posting Facebook statuses, as I tend to be a fairly vocal participant in the Facebook culture. However, out of sight is out of mind, so who knows if people would notice my absence. And, even if my absence was detected, would people realize that I was blacked out in protest of SOPA/PIPA?
So, instead of shutting down today, I am going to do the exact opposite. I will declaim SOPA/PIPA as loudly as I can with my internet-voice, while I still have that ability. I kicked the day off by sending an E-mail to both the Michigan senators and my representative, my Facebook posts will be nothing but links to anti-SOPA sites, and I am writing this post. I neglected to save myself a copy of my E-mail, since I sent it through the politicians respective "contact me" pages, but I highlighted the fact that SOPA starts punishing site owners before they have had a chance to state their case, which seems antithetical to fundamental American tenets about justice, and that holding site owners responsible for third party content seems like it will inevitably lead to an internet with fewer places for people to express themselves. If I could be held legally responsible for your comments, I probably wouldn't allow them either.
Whatever your stance on IPR, I think we can all agree that we shouldn't sacrifice the modern information technology industry on the altar of an antiquated business model like the entertainment industry seems to be asking us to do. Well, I think I did a marvelous job framing the previous sentence in an unbiased manner. Should you agree that SOPA/PIPA are bad ideas, here are some links you may find interesting.
An excellent explanation on why industry representatives talking about the damages to the economy due to piracy are either seriously apathetic to reality, or are lying, lying liars
Wikipedia, normally a repository for all sorts of useful and interesting information, has decided that today what is most important for you to know is how to contact your representatives. So, enter your Zip code and find out how to make your voice, sort of, heard.
Google's anti-SOPA/PIPA petition, don't you miss the friendly Google banner?
More information about SOPA/PIPA. If you head over to ElfArmy's blog, you will see their handiwork and what a striking webpage looks like; striking, isn't it?