Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It's not over

First, thanks and congratulations are in order. Thank you to the coalition of people who have and are making a stand against the SOPA and PIPA bills now before Congress. And congratulations as well, it look like the Internet demonstration is harming the bills' support.

We -- you -- have won the battle. But the war, the war is not over. And it's been going on a long time. SOPA and PIPA are copyright laws, and the purpose of copyright law is, Constitutionally, to "promote the Arts and Sciences" creating information shared by everyone, i.e. the public domain. Yet for the United States' entire history, more self interested parties have attempted to twist copyright law for their own ends, regardless of the harm to freedom of expression or the public domain.

As you no doubt understand, the Internet is built on freedom of expression and sharing of information. Destroying it with laws that violate its principles will harm everyone, including the short sighted groups that lobbied for the SOPA and PIPA. But for greed, avarice or stupidity, they can't see that

Already, they're planning the next assault against the Internet and the principles it's built upon. As shown in this TechDirt article, they'll talk about criminals and stealing and, no doubt, child porn. These are emotional topics -- so emotional that they'll cause people to react rather than think. And they hope no one will speak out, because who can be for child porn?

So what can we do to win not just this battle, but the upcoming ones and the war? First, we must educate ourselves. When I say coalition, I meant it. My stance is different from Google's and Wikipedia's and probably yours as well. We need to know why we're fighting and, just as importantly, why SOPA and PIPA's supporters are wrong.

Good learning resources include:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Intellectual Property

Copyright expert, free culture advocate, lawyer and Havard professor Lawrence Lessig's many works

The Berkman Center For Internet & Society where Lessig currently works.

Cornell's Legal Information Institude

And, of course, Wikipedia.

We need to have a plan going forward. Definitely be ready to speak out and be ready to write your congresspersons. But you'll need a plan of action to share and to advocate. Consider these and decide what you think the best path is:

Nate Anderson of Ars Technica

EFF's White Papers on your rights and how to defend them.

One insightful redditor's take on the issue

Lastly, don't forget to support the groups that fight these battles every day. First and foremost, join and support EFF -- the premier advocate for Internet and computer freedoms. Furthermore, consider supporting other groups that promote the Internet and fight our rights and abilities to share in it:

The Creative Commons: "...realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.

The Free Software Foundation. Advocating for the free (as in freedom) software ideals that much of the Internet is built upon.

The American Civil Liberties Union Less directed than the EFF, but longtime advocates of First Amendment rights.

And, of course, Wikipedia

There's much more to understand, of course. The fundamental issues behind this conflict are very deep. Soon, I hope to share red pill and you'll find out just how deep the rabbit-hole goes.