So, yesterday, large portions of the internet blacked out in protest of two bills before Congress, SOPA and PIPA. (If you want to learn more, you can go here and here.) This included websites such as Wikipedia (related: the number of people who rely on Wikipedia as their sole source of scholarly information makes me sad), Reddit, Craigslist, Google…not dinky little websites people never look at.
I joined in, blacking out both this blog and my Tumblr. (I tried to do the Twitter blackout. I think I made it 21 or 22 hours. I couldn’t help myself.) Obviously, neither of these patches of internet will ever be anywhere near equaling the scale that Wikipedia and Google reach, but still, I had to show my solidarity somehow.
While I agree that piracy is bad and things should be done about it, punishing everyone because a small group of people are jerks isn’t the way to do it. I mean, yeah, I sternly lecture my friends every time they mention illegally downloading music or movies or whatever from the internet, because even if you think the big wigs are the ones making all the money off of it and don’t they have enough? – well, someone still took the time and energy to create that (yes, even this person), and as someone who spends large amounts of time and energy creating things, I find it very, very uncool to steal things.
But going to the point where you’d potentially be forcing big websites like Google or Tumblr to take responsibility and potentially shut down because some kid who doesn’t know anything about copyright law reblogged a picture they found online? I mean, maybe the ultimate goal isn’t censorship. But, that’s basically what would happen, because everything in these pieces of legislation is so broadly defined, it could leave it open to abuse, and then what? How are we supposed to be able to express ourselves freely if we’re always looking around, worrying about getting in trouble? And if these laws were to pass, couldn’t that just be the first step to even worse things?
Guys, piracy is lame. But censorship is even more lame.