SOPA and the Long Haul

Today marked one of the Internet’s broadest, most visible protests. Several large internet properties, including Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, and Mozilla, participated in a “blackout” in an effort to raise awareness of (and put a stop to) two bills currently before the US Congress: SOPA and PIPA. Chances are good that this isn’t news to you.

If for some reason you don’t know, here’s a (technical, but) good explanation of what can go wrong with these bills.

As I watched the events of the day unfold, I was grateful for the new awareness, had a chuckle at those who don’t get it, and of course enjoyed the irony of copyright violations by PIPA supporters. However, I was left feeling uneasy. SOPA and PIPA aren’t new problems - they are merely the latest efforts in an ongoing battle. I was pleased to see this article in Read Write Web which spoke to what I was feeling:

Sure, call your representative and senators today. Protest SOPA and PIPA. But beyond that, keep paying attention to what your elected officials are doing. Spend a little more time paying attention to your government, even if it means spending a little less time on entertainment activities.

If you want a quick overview of the broader context, this TED Talk by Clay Shirky is a fantastic quick overview.

This is a long, ongoing battle between last century’s media money and the Internet. It’s neither new nor is it going away.

#StopSOPA - but don’t stop there.