Imagine a world where someone has a monopoly over the media, backed by the power to ban personal privacy and political dissent and capable of preventing people from public gathering and collective discussion without due process, judicial review or any evidence!
Some of you might venture a guess that the above text reads like a passage from George Orwell’s 1984.
Others might say that it sounds like the situation under the totalitarian regimes of the former Eastern Block or any other contemporary autoritarian.
It is vital to realize, however, that this is not only fiction. This is not just the situation in some geographically obscure country stuck in the last 6 seconds of the evening newscast.
This is infact the future reality that we might be facing today, here, in the “free world.”
This is Canada, the United States and the European Union.
Attempts at removing privacy switches and settings on the internet, Digital Rights Management (DRM) software which literary takes over your computer and legislation such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Canada’s Bill C32 and the notorious European internet disconection laws for cutting people off from the internet without due process, judicial review or even the spec of any evidence, are threatening our freedom.
Are we not following in the steps of Syria and China in building national firewalls, even if it is “to block pirates”?
Can we have global phenomena such as the Arab Spring in such a context?
Did we forget that the Russian government used software piracy as a pretext for confiscating activists’ computers and the Chinese government used it to silence the 2008 Beijing Olympics critics and other political dissent?
Are we not outraged to hear that Congressional staffers behind SOPA get shiny new jobs as entertainment industry lobbyists?
So, what can I do, you may ask?
Well, you can start like Seth Godin by asking and finding out Who wants to break the internet?
Then you can watch the short 4 min SOPA video backgrounder and 1 (or both) of the Cory Doctorow videos below to learn about the issues in the easiest way possible.
Cory takes us beyond the idiotic dichotomy “copyright protection is good” vs “copyright protection is bad” and instead asks a very simple question:
What do we want copyright to do and how do we accomplish that?
The answer is easy: We want copyright that fosters innovation and protects the rights of content creators while providing the best net benefit to consumers.
Then we look at what we have now, get angry, get off our sofas, pick up the phone or start our word-editors and begin making a lot of noise.
We write to our congressmen!
We name and shame the people and companies who challenge our freedoms!
We name and shame the politicians who prefer to serve the above sorry lot rather than their true constituents!
We sign up the petition at AmericanCensorship.org
We kick ass, get things done and change the world!
We stop SOPA and prevent 2012 from becoming 1984!
A Short 4 min Backgrouder: Protect IP/SOPA Breaks the Internet
Khan Academy explains SOPA/PIPA
The Fall Of SOPA
The SOPA debacle explained in 3 minutes.
Clay Shirky’s TED Talk on Why SOPA is a Bad Idea
- Internet giants place full-page anti-SOPA ad in NYT
- Copyrights vs Human Rights: big publishing and SOPA
- Online piracy laws must preserve Web freedom