Jan 20, 2012

SOPA SOPA!

Google.com 01/18/2012
On Wednesday, several prominent internet sights went "dark" to protest two new bills in the legislature.  They were described by the Google landing page as follows:
Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.  The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let them know how you feel. Sign this petition urging Congress to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA before it is too late.
 While I don't pretend to completely understand what the laws propose, I was struck by what one of the republican candidates for president, Rick Santorum, said on Thursday night during the Reblican Debate in Charleston, SC.  His comment is posted below, but in summary, he stated, "The Internet is not a free zone where anybody can do anything they want to do."




Then it struck me ... the Internet is basically a free zone, and that's what makes it so wonderful!  Rick Santorum isn't entirely wrong, and in fact the merit behind his argument is sound.  Unfortunately, the playing field has changed so radically that we can no longer examine the situation as he has proposed, as a threat to intellectual property rights for example.  This is like saying that all sprinters should be slowed down because humans have just gotten faster!


I understand and appreciate the importance of intellectual property rights, especially as a developer of new products, but the internet is like open source software ... if you put something out there, then you should expect it to become part of internet lexicon.  This freedom is what has promoted so much great information (and, granted, some very bad information) to be available at the click of a button.  Censoring this will crush this.  Instead, we should embrace this freedom and, consequently, learn how to live with it and further it.  Music artists as well as the entire music industry has already started innovating in order to protect music and provide a living for artists, and we can all take a page out of this lesson.

Obviously, I am not alone in this sentiment (see a small sample of sights below that went dark), and I hope the legislators understand that impact censorship will have, and more important, the slippery slope it will create if it passes.  Let the Internet be what it is, and let it be us who adapts.