"Men fight for freedom, then they begin to accumulate laws to take it away from themselves." ~Author Unknown
On January 18th, some of the websites many of us rely on were shut down to protest H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and S.968, Protect IP Act (PIPA). While admittedly artists and writers deserve to be paid for their work, government censorship of the internet is definitely not the answer. Don’t be misled into thinking that only the government can stop online piracy. Google lawyer David Drummond explains:
“Fighting online piracy is extremely important. We are investing a lot of time and money in that fight. Last year alone we acted on copyright takedown notices for more than 5 million webpages and invested more than $60 million in the fight against ads appearing on bad sites. And we think there is more that can be done here--like targeted and focused steps to cut off the money supply to foreign pirate sites. If you cut off the money flow, you cut the incentive to steal.
Because we think there's a good way forward that doesn't cause collateral damage to the web, we're joining Wikipedia, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Mozilla and other Internet companies in speaking out against SOPA and PIPA.”
I’m an American, so it is my First Amendment right to speak my mind, write about the topic on my internet blog, text my opposition to a friend, e-mail my view to my Congressmen, and shout about the subject from atop a soapbox in front of the White House. These proposed government bills do not specifically detail what internet piracy is or what steps the government will take to stop it. Instead, the bills offer a broad definition of piracy and allow the government too much latitude in enforcing the laws. We don’t need a government that has the ability to restrict the content of the internet for any reason. It’s unnecessary, and it’s censorship, plain and simple.
If we sit silently while our government passes laws that restrict our freedom of speech, will Congress believe that we agree with their actions? Absolutely! Now is the time to exercise your freedom of speech. Make yourself heard. And for heaven’s sake, let’s vote these misguided, power-hungry Congressmen out of office. There must be someone with principles and a bit of intelligence willing to take the job.
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." ~James Madison, speech, Virginia Convention, 1788
A great article about the online protest of SOPA and PIPA:
The good news is that Wikipedia is now back online in case you want to read more about your First Amendment rights:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution
August 2017 update: There's an interesting new site that really digs into the First Amendment rights and what it means for online "free speech." It's definitely worth a read if you're interested in this topic: https://www.comparitech.com/blog/vpn-privacy/the-first-amendment-what-it-means-free-speech-online/