On Jan. 18, many sites on the Internet either shut down or allowed limited access in an attempt to illustrate the potential oppression that could come from the proposed Internet regulations referred to as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act).
One of the most notable sites to shut down was wikipedia.org. It greeted its visitors with a page encouraging its users to contact their local representatives to protest. Ironically, as a result, many of our nation’s lawmakers suffered Internet outages that, unlike Wikipedia’s, were (I hope) not voluntary. The implication is that the flood of opposition regarding SOPA and PIPA actually caused servers to crash.
By the end of that day I had really only successfully contacted Rep. James Lankford. Since then, I have successfully managed to send my comments to Sens. Inhofe and Coburn, but currently I have only received a response from Rep. Lankford.
Sadly, I feel his response is written in a manner only a politician can write; one which intends to curry support, but not wholly refute these controversial bills.
Our government has no legal right to create this level of control over a medium used for free speech. This has the potential to negatively impact everyone, regardless of political affiliation or walks of life. While the need to protect intellectual property is necessary, it must be tempered with what is already considered “fair use” copyright practices. In order to maintain those dignities from which everyone benefits, what constitutes “fair use” must no longer be arbitrary, it must become a well-defined boundary. And at the very least, these bills’ ability to vilify and shut down entire websites, based upon something as minute as a single questionable link, image or video, is draconian, at best.
I would encourage Gazette readers to continue to fight against SOPA and PIPA, as it has the potential to have serious ramifications in this and other publications with an online readership.
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