As most know Wikipedia went dark on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 in protest of the SOPA bill, and for them with a small staff, they certainly have a point, as their business model could be targeted and shut down. There is no way they could hire enough people to ensure everything posted was original, every sentence, and every picture “duty free” – thus, what if Wikipedia did not exist? Google also blacked out its logo to get us to think also.
Okay so, let’s discuss this shall we? What If Google and Wikipedia disappeared forever? I guess your online experience wouldn’t be the same, and no one can remember everything on the web. If knowledge is power, what if your power was hijacked and sold back to you, or kept from you? You think the 99% have it bad now, what if? Got a set of encyclopedias? Well, I do, along with a 3500 volume library, but really it is a tiny sliver of the information now available online as you know.
Indeed, I was talking to a college professor locally here recently about Wikipedia going dark for one day, and he said he wished he would have known sooner, as he would have scheduled a research paper or term paper due the following day knowing most students pull an all-nighter the night before and lift information from Wikipedia, and it would be great to watch them drown in sorrow without all that information, make them do their own research for a change. I laughed with him on that point.
And yet, still we both agreed that the SOPA issue and the draconian measures proposed would indeed limit information, and would be used to censor soon enough. Any politicians who didn’t want critique would figure out a way to use that law to shut down their political critics or opposition. Corporate America would use it to shut down whistleblowers, or upset consumers to falsely prop-up critics of their products and services. Governments would use it for the same. It would be a nightmare.
The reality is there are laws against people who pirate software, music, movies, or sell pirated branded products. No one denies that, and we all know that needs to stop, but in the end this SOPA rule will not really stop much, but it will quell free-speech, freedom, liberty, and democracy. That’s not something that the United States ought to be spear-heading, it goes against all we stand for you see.
There was an interesting article in the Atlanta Wire recently titled; “The Great Martin Luther King Copyright Conundrum,” by Adam Clark Estes published on January 16, 2012, which stated:
“Believe it or not, to legally watch that famous MLK “I Have a Dream” speech — arguably one of the most hallowed moments in American History — costs $10 thanks to the twisted state of US Copyright Law. With the dramatic rise of the issue of digital rights, thanks largely in part to the dramatic controversy surrounding the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the story seems unusually prescient this year.”
Yes, indeed, and that’s a good point isn’t it. Well, I will leave you with that, and I hope you will please consider an altered online experience if something like SOPA ever came to pass. Think on it.