This entry is written by Paul MacLean, a Sr. Programmer and the Duke of Digital Strategy at tbk Creative.

On January 18th, Wikipedia, Mozilla and a host of other sites are going black.

Blackout

So, unfortunately, for one day we won’t be able to see Jimmy Wales mug pleading for money (all kidding aside – just donate to them already).

If you’re not up to speed as to why, these sites are protesting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was introduced by the US House of Representatives. This original draft of this bill will allow the U.S. Department of Justice to take down websites accused of enabling copyright infringement.

While I agree that there are all kinds of problems with intellectual theft on the internet (shh don’t tell that to the 17 year old me over a decade ago who had a bad Napster/Limewire habit), the implications of this bill means that any site, like Facebook, like Wikipedia, Reddit and many other heavy hitters around the Internet could be shut down.

In my opinion, further implications could mean that in the future, if there was social upheaval, the U.S. government could have the power to shut down the agents in the guise of copyright infringement.

So, on to why I find the fight against this Bill so intriguing:

  1. “This Bill Will Not Be Televised.”  According to Wikipedia, NBCUniversal, Viacom, the Motion Picture Association and the Recording Industry Association of America are all supporters of this new bill. As a news junkie, I have seen very little coverage from the major outlets. It has been a battle between the new tech giants and the old media companies.
  2. This is the first time I have seen the internet community collectively, actively, and aggressively fight a bill passing through legislation. And they are winning!
  3. What is most inspiring is that this, to me, represents a new kind of democracy coming from the likes of …Reddit?. The major news outlets have filtered information on their prime time news shows. The communities built on free, open source exchange of information (ok mostly kittens and NSFW images) have responded.
    Reflecting on this, I think of the potential that these new mediums have to act on social issues that affect us all. It makes me wonder if the voice of the people does actually count? It also makes me realize that I am now going to support any cause that protects these new, more free mediums.

So I say, right on Wikipedia!

However, I am glad you are on black out tomorrow and not today, because the other window I have open with the Wikipedia SOPA bill article really helped to write this.

My question is, are you, like me inspired at all by this, or do I spend too much time on the internet? Do you think this is the start of something bigger, or will it just fizzle and we will all get back to making rude comments on YouTube?

If you want more of these web design and social media marketing thoughts delivered to your inbox for free, you can subscribe here.