Wikipedia, Reddit, Craigslist, Wired, Boing Boing and other online media sites are protesting today (January 18, 2012) by blacking out, partially blacking out, or censoring some part of themselves for a 24-hour period. The protests are against two bills, SOPA (now in the U.S. House of Representatives) and PIPA (now in the U.S. Senate). The bills are intended to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites. They have the support of the U.S film and music industries. But, according to sites online that blacking out, the bills endanger an open, secure, and free Internet. Wikipedia explains it this way:
SOPA and PIPA are badly drafted legislation that won’t be effective at their stated goal (to stop copyright infringement), and will cause serious damage to the free and open Internet. They put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites [ed. note: like EarthSky.org] won’t have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors, even if copyright isn’t being infringed. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won’t show up in major search engines. And, SOPA and PIPA build a framework for future restrictions and suppression.
Like to get your info via Ted? The following video is a 13-minute talk called “Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea).”
By the way, SOPA is short for Stop Online Piracy Act, and PIPA for Protect IP Act. (IP stands for “intellectual property.”)
EarthSky encourages you to contact your representatives and voice your opinion on these bills.
Outside U.S.: Stop American Censorship
Here are just a few of the best links we’ve found today on this subject:
SOPA and PIPA: Learn more from Wikipedia (visible during the blackout)
SOPA, PIPA: What you need to know from CBSNews.com
Follow SOPA through the legislative process from GovTrack.us
Follow PIPA through the legislative process from GovTrack.us
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.