Wiki-Wiki-Whaa?

17 01 2012

Wikipedia’s Powerful Protest

In a few hours (Jan 18), our beloved consumer-created online encyclopedia is protesting against SOPA by blacking out for 24 hours. Yes, it’s okay to cry a few tears – this is going to suck for the next day. I thought this would be great content for us to look at because Levinson talks in his book (Ch 1) about Wikipedia as new new media.

I’ll talk briefly about SOPA and the harm that will come from good intentions.

What’s SOPA?

In an attempt to control and enforce copyright laws (thus giving creators their ownership rights), the House of Representatives proposed the Stop Online Piracy Act. The bill would allow the U.S. Dept of Justice to seek court orders against websites that allegedly are breaking copyright laws. Also, the bill is trying to protect against counterfeit drug sales through online transactions. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

Wrong.

While the idea seems good, here’s what it’s going to really mess with: the First Amendment and Internet censorship. Sites like Wikipedia will be monitored and censored. Google’s search engine won’t be allowed to provide results to websites that infringe on copyright issues, no matter the scale. Posting a picture without copyright permission? Forget about it. Free speech will indeed be crippled.

The Great Debate

I totally understand the government’s attempt to give rights to those who respectfully deserve it. They make excellent arguments that I agree with. This whole ordeal is a typical circular ethics issue – just like abortion, guns, and the death penalty.

So let me ask an ethical question:

Which would you prefer – imprison and kill one innocent man, or let five guilty men go free?

Is it right for the government to protect someone’s work by infringing on the expression of others? Should they have the power to protect one artist by restraining and censoring thousands of people?

It’s a hard question to answer, and I don’t know how to answer it. But I do know SOPA is not the answer.

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8 responses

17 01 2012
northerndom

Nice report on the issue! I’m shocked by how little people seemed to discuss SOPA until recently. Perhaps it is just from my perspective in the web-world, but even when I posted an article about it on my FB, people seemed indifferent at best. Hopefully the anarchic spirit of social media can continue to undermine damaging restrictions on our freedoms… I better get all my WIkipedia-fix out now!

17 01 2012
shredfast

And that lack of awareness is EXACTLY why Wikipedia should be doing this. Take away something college students take for granted on a daily basis…and you can generate quite the crowd of protesting minions. I honestly think Wikipedia should blackout for a week (though I understand why not). Think of the impact these media giants could make – Mozilla, IE, Google, Wikipedia, Twitter…all of them.

17 01 2012
flufferwuffer

I would have had no idea what SOPA was if there weren’t so many sites I already go on that took a stand against it. I think it’s great that so many websites decided to step out of what might have been a comfort zone for the professionalism of the website and took a proactive stand against SOPA. It just shows that people CAN make a difference. And even though I pretty much never go on Wikipedia…I know people that will miss it sorely for those 24 hours.

17 01 2012
shredfast

Wikipedia helped me better understand Aristotle’s conceptualization of virtue at 12:30 last night when my brain stopped functioning…no way I want the government cramping up on that kind of help!

18 01 2012
kab13

Nice exchange. We can all put up the SOPA ribbon by going Dashboard > Settings > SOPA / PIPA.

18 01 2012
hflute

First they took away napster, now they are trying to tighten the reins on You tube?? wheres the fun in that? I happen to like sharing my moods with my fellow facebook friends by sharing a link to my “song of the day.” Although I enjoy this leisure activity of posting videos, I do see the other side and agree with peoples constitutional rights being violated in all aspects of this scenario.

18 01 2012
wooshkah

I’ve seen a few headlines and offhanded statements on facebook, but never really put much time into finding out what SOPA actually is. Time to google some articles and read about this for myself.

19 01 2012
mariejdillon

I saw some posts about it on Facebook today, and I was wondering what it actually was too. Maybe tomorrow morning when my Internet connection is faster than a snail (it tends to get really slow at night sometimes) I’ll search it out a little and see what I can find.

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