On SOPA & PIPA, those devious twins

This blog doesn’t have a large enough readership to make a blackout protest very effective, but I wanted to write a bit about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) that sites like Wikipedia and Reddit (and the Arabist!) are making a stand against today.

A free and open internet has been one of the largest contributors to the growth of global prosperity over the past two decades, and both SOPA and PIPA threaten to utterly destroy that. I wish I could say that were hyperbole, but the parochial interests of a $10 billion entertainment industry in the United States are literally on the verge of strangling trillions of dollars of commerce and, worse, the civil rights of Americans.

But even though SOPA and PIPA are US laws being considered by a US legislature, the rest of the world has a strong interest in making sure they fail to pass and that the very idea behind them is dismissed. About half my readership comes from overseas (hello, Canada!), and if you have any American friends, I urge you to make sure they know the danger SOPA and PIPA poses to not just their American way of life, but to the world’s enjoyment of a free and open internet. We Americans love to complain about our politicians, but few enough actually make the effort to contact their representatives and make their views known, and those who care enough to do so often represent narrow interests.

Unpopular laws that harm the rights of Americans and negatively affect our neighbors have been passed before, and more will undoubtedly be passed in the future. SOPA and PIPA are particularly egregious because of the chilling effect they will have on a large segment of modern day economic and social life for so meager a cause. Free speech and the free flow of information around the entire world should not suffer because one industry has failed to adapt to a world driven by technological progress. If you’re American, please contact your representative and senators today and let them know that it is not okay to put the interests of one small industry above the sanctity of one of humanity’s greatest inventions. If you’re not American, please spread the word so more people can understand the threat of SOPA and PIPA.

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