Today I just signed a petition on one of the biggest issues forthcoming in our society. The PROTECT IP Act of 2011, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy, is a legislation that suggests that the Justice Department establish a system for taking down websites that infringe on copyright laws. This legislation states that the copyright owner would be able to commence a legal action against the alleged infringer and Justice Department would be allowed to demand that search engines, social networking sites and domain name services be blocked from access to the targeted site. It is rumored that in come cases, action could be taken to block sites without first allowing the alleged infringer to defend him or herself in court.
When I first started this program I was all for this kind of thing. Yeah it is ok to get inspiration from things on the Internet or use things for education purposes, but to still others works and use it as your own is completely wrong. I am a graphic designer and I have to use stock photos from the Internet all the time but when I use those images, I make sure I try to make it unique or different from the original piece. In addition, I do not get paid from the designs that I have. I do not want my design work to be stolen off the Internet! With the Internet being open source, someone can take my design without me evening knowing. Some of my peers will argue that this is how everything works. If you truly love something then you should not be trying to make money from it. Of course, that is true but you still have to be able feed your family.
After watching the PROTECT IP/ SOPA Act breaks the Internet video by fightforthefuture.org, I learned that the censorship that I have been asking for is not what I really want. After listening to our Guest lecture, Réhab El-Bakry, an Egyptian journalist, speak about how much the Muslim government censors her freedom of speech on the Internet and how the wrong things that you say may have you killed I noticed that freedom of speech is virtue that we take for granted in America. PROTECT IP can essentially go after anyone who allows users to post comments of privacy to their sites. However, the problem is there is not really a different from social media sites and the blogs/forums that privacy users go to get information. These websites are almost in the same. If PROTECT IP passes then anywhere on the Internet where people go to express themselves, make art, broadcast news, and organize protest can be targeted for by PROTECT IP.
I agree that people should not be able to just still, what ever they want from the Internet. Nevertheless, this is the problem and great value of the Internet, everyone uses it for a different reason. I do not want to be regulated from going to site because it has been taken down because of some customers used the site inappropriately. As well, some people are using the Internet for its true purpose, getting a message to the masses. It would be a shame if Réhab could not get her message out about what terrible things the government is doing in Egypt. Something has to be done with the Internet but the PROTECT IP act is not the answer.