If today (January 18, 2012) is "Internet Blackout Day" to protest SOPA/PIPA bills under consideration by the US Congress... then why am I still online? Why are you online, if you're reading this post on the 18th?
Is it because we cannot go a single day or hour or minute without our entertainment and news and communication? Perhaps - but there are still movies and print newspapers and telephone calls that can fill those voids.
More likely, we're online - now and any time - because we must share something. I mean that we are truly driven to share good news, bad news, cute kitten pictures, tidbits of information, and titles of books that someone else will just love; we are humans, and our culture of sharing is part of what makes us human.
To me, giving credit to the originator/creator/performer of a painting, a song, a book, a charming and witty sentence is a moral obligation, according to my upbringing and my education as a librarian. This was much easier when books and paintings were "one-off" and there was only one original with no easy way to copy it. Then along came the printing press, camera, tape recorder, photocopier and so on. Thank goodness for US copyright laws.
Yes, piracy of intellectual property is a real and growing problem. Yes, there do need to be legal ways to stop and punish intentional internet piracy. But I agree with many others that SOPA/PIPA is the wrong way to accomplish this.
This tweet today from Erin Bow (author of Plain Kate, which I recommend) puts it in perspective for me: "I'm an author; I make a living because of copyright, and piracy takes its toll. But SOPA would stop piracy by poisoning the ocean." @ErinBowBooks
Google has started a petition to protest passage of SOPA (the House of Representatives version)/ PIPA (the Senate version); you can sign it here.
The bills are scheduled for Jan. 24th vote, so you have time to read them yourself (PIPA here, SOPA here) and contact your Representative and your Senators to help them understand that censoring the Internet through SOPA/PIPA will not stop piracy of intellectual property online.
If we do not speak out, how can we help our lawmakers decide?