As you may have already heard, tomorrow Wikipedia and a number of other sites will go dark. Ok...so, it probably won't happen at noon, nor is it likely to be accompanied by the jingle of spurs or the screams of horses. However, if things go as planned it is likely to have as big an impact as the proverbial old west showdown.
And we should hope so too because there is a lot at stake. The central issue is piracy, be it music, movies or ...books? *sniff* If people want tocontinue having big popcorn blockbusters where they can practice their covert kissing skills, then they must pay for these intellectual delights. An incredible amount of work, time and money go into the production of making a film, and the cold hard truth is that none of that would happen if you could no longer make a profit doing it. Gaffers and Best boys have to eat, and producers have to make enough profit to bankroll their next flick. The same goes for music and story craft.
However, and you can see it is a big 'however', the needs of the entertainment industry to make a profit cannot trump our human rights (privacy) or our freedom of speech. That's a no can do. Yet these proposed laws would require companies like Google, Yahoo and Bing to sever links and other Internet giants would have to block sites and police content. That's censorship.
I love Google, but I'm not ready or willing to give them a badge, slap them on a horse and scream posse! It's just not their place. As an aspring pro-writer myself, I know that I could someday lose big by having my work pirated, but it's wrong to use that as an excuse to suck the life out of the whole of the Internet and potentially turn today's law abiding citizens into criminals.
Whether Wikipedia is doing the right thing or not by shutting their business down for a day, such an act is a very bold statement and it should get your attention. The law is a cudgel, and any changes made to the law are going to have the precision of such an instrument. I believe we all have a responsibility to try and protect ourselves from bad laws, and it is much easier to do so before they are passed rather than after. So I encourage everyone to take a moment and learn more about this issue, and if you are so moved, get involved. Call or message your congressman or your Senator and tell them what you think.
By the by Darkness at Noon is a worthy book, and apropo. Check it out!
Many Thanks to Kriss Szkurlatiwski, www.12frames.eu for the photo.