Lots of websites, from Wired to Wikipedia to The Cynical Girl, are going dark today as part of the Internet protest over proposed online anti-piracy legislation that many feel would actually cripple free speech.
That’s not because TLNT feels special or immune, because it’s my firm belief that this legislation, if it becomes law, could censor websites such as TLNT that frequently link to (and feature under the principle of “fair use”) copyrighted content from other places.
No, TLNT is not participating in the “blackout” because I believe it actually makes more sense to educate you about the issues and the potential chilling effect this legislation would not only have on TLNT, but on the bloggers we feature, the websites all of us link to, and the free flow of information as it now takes place under established Internet principles such as “fair use.”
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And, I couldn’t find any better way to educate you about all of this than this great Q&A from Silicon Valley’s own San Jose Mercury News. Here’s a little of what it had to say:
As Wikipedia and other websites go dark Wednesday in what backers are calling the largest Internet protest ever, the epic battle between Silicon Valley and Hollywood over online anti-piracy legislation continues to heat up, even as many Web surfers scratch their heads over what it all means.
The fight is over the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill now stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives that’s aimed at stopping the spread of pirated copies of movies and other content by “rogue” websites overseas. Heavyweight supporters of SOPA such as Time Warner and the Motion Picture Association of America are butting up against tech titans such as Wikipedia, Google and Facebook, which argue that the legislation could lead to widespread censorship.
Here is a guide to help understand SOPA and a parallel bill in the Senate called the Protect IP Act:
Q: What is SOPA?
A: Backers say the bill is necessary to rein in copyright infringement, specifically from pirate sites outside the United States, by essentially cutting off their oxygen supply, says Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University and a neutral observer in the debate.
We can’t send in the feds to bust them,” he said, “and the intellectual property, or IP, owners can’t go after them in U.S. court. So these bills create ways to marginalize websites by cutting off their domain name or their money supply, doing things like requiring credit-card companies to stop making payments to the sites and require ad networks to drop them as customers.”
There is a lot more information in the San Jose Mercury News article (which TLNT would not be able to link to here if the SOPA becomes law), so spend a little time and get yourself educated on why today’s Internet blackout is of such great importance to you — and to everyone else who believes in the free flow, and fair use, of information.