We here at Mindfly are creators. We earn our living from creating great websites, and like every creative our livelihood depends on our work and we agree that there needs to be some form of legislation that helps better protect us from online piracy.
However, SOPA and PIPA, two pieces of legislation currently being considered by Congress, are not the legislation we need. Between them they pose a very real risk to undermining the technology the Internet is based upon as well as jeopardizing the principles of free speech that have made the Internet what it is and that as Americans we hold so dear.
Today, January 18th, is SOPA Resistance Day. Several sites, including prominent ones like Wikipedia, are blacking out in order to show us how a world with SOPA and PIPA might look; a world where sites can be shut down and censored without due process. Other sites are participating by providing information about the legislation, explaining the dangers they pose, and providing information about how to do something to help combat them.
Regardless of whether you’re a creator or a consumer we here at Mindfly want to ask you to do three things today.
1. Get Informed. Learn what SOPA and PIPA are as well as the risks they pose. Information is power, and thanks to an uncensored Internet we have more access to information than that of any culture in any time before us. You can read a piece by the Electronic Frontier Foundation explaining the risk to free speech that PIPA and SOPA pose. Additionally, Ars Technica is covering SOPA Resistance Day in detail all day long, describing the efforts people are taking, the reason that this legislation is a danger, and how you can participate.
2. Get Involved. Once you’ve learned more about SOPA and PIPA, we’d like to ask you to consider participating in helping fight this legislation. You can contact your senator or representative (the information for contacting a senator is here, and a representative is here). You can sign petitions, if that’s your sort of thing. Here’s one urging the White House to veto SOPA if it passes. And you can even blackout your own Internet site for the day, helping show others what the Internet may look like when censorship trumps free speech. Here’s a project on github that provides HTML allowing you to do just that.
3. Get Thoughtful. SOPA and PIPA are heavy-handed approaches to a real problem. As important as free speech and an uncensored Internet are to our modern society and promoting innovation, online piracy is a real issue that needs a solution. It’s not just multimillion dollar media companies that are at risk of having their material copied and profited from without their consent. As website designers, not a day goes by that we don’t see news of one of our peers having a design they worked hard creating appearing on the Internet somewhere else as the “original work” of some sham company. If we want to keep Congress from breaking the Internet or threatening free speech with their misguided efforts at combating piracy, then each of us needs to take a hand in helping craft a solution that will work for our society and not against it. Be a part of the conversation.