Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Importance of Our Voices

It's ironic that my first official blog post goes up on the day that many other internet sites are on strike. I think that it is important that my first blog post be one that is pertinent to the work that I do and the work of many of my cyber colleagues.

Today, many websites (sites such as Wikipedia, Google, and other search engines) are dark. They have chosen to go dark in protest of bills recently introduced to Congress. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), in the House of Representatives, and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), in the U.S. Senate, are bills that could censor the internet. Legislators who presented the bills say that their purposes are to control foreign sites posting content that would infringe on copyright. If passed, they will force constant monitoring of links and other materials posted to websites, possibly shutting down these sites.

The types of websites that could be affected are those such as this blog, many of the search engines we use daily, and any of the social networking sites. If this law goes into effect, you will have difficulty accessing your favorite sites (i.e., this blog, Google, YouTube, Facebook, any means of sharing information). Only speaking for myself, I post links to articles and other content on my Facebook page and Twitter feed to inform others of what's going on in society, for example sharing a news story that only a handful of people would have heard of. Think of me as a kind of pied piper. An educated, informed citizen is dangerous to large corporations. These large businesses, such as record labels and film distribution companies, are the entities that would benefit from this legislative initiative. Don't these businesses already make enough money?!

You may say that with me being an artist that I would want to support both bills. For many artists like myself, we exercise self-distribution. If these bills were enacted, we wouldn't be able to distribute our art (think back to when Prince self-distributed his music). Self-distribution is how many playwrights, novelists, poets, and songwriters get their start. These bills could prevent artists like me from reaching the masses, including a possible agent, killing these important career goals.

Exercising my role as the "pied piper," I would like for all of my readers to please visit these links TODAY (as the strike ends at midnight tonight) to learn more about these bills.

End Piracy, Not Liberty, a site supported by Google (this site also contains a petition that you can sign; I encourage all readers to sign the petition)

Colorlines' What is SOPA?

Wikipedia's explanation of SOPA and PIPA

Once these links are removed, I'll be sure to post other information on SOPA/PIPA to my blog.

Please share these links on your respective blogs, Facebook walls, Twitter feeds, Tumblr accounts, etc, any way to share the information with a number of people.

If you have the time, please contact your representatives and say that you would like the elected officials representing you and your neighbors to vote against this bill. To find out how to contact your U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative, please click here.

As with net neutrality, it will be the power of the people to stop this legislation from passing.

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