Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wikipedia blacked out in protest

Today, Wikipedia and several other internet sites are going to be blacked out for twenty-four hours to protest two internet bills making their way though Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

While I am against piracy (after all, I am a writer and have discovered all my posts feeding directly onto another website), I think that these two bills will do more damage than they are worth. I especially fear what would happen if they were enacted into law and someone with more vinegar than brains decids to use them for the purposes of putting businesses they do not like out of their misery. One of the parts still in the bill requires websites to remove all links to sites that host pirated material; and if they miss a link, they too can be penaltized under the law.

From an occult blogger's viewpoint, this means that most, if not all, occult webpages would become off-limits to link to. Why? Well, do you know who really owns the copyrights to most of the occult stuff out there? Me neither. And even if you think that you do know, are you positive that you are right? And that no one is going to claim otherwise?

For instance, a few years ago one group tried to get certain research libraries to turn over certain collections---the reasoning was that since the group controlled the name that all material under that name actually belonged to them and not the library to which the public domain material had been donated. And given that these internet laws would be enforced by government agencies, well, one only have to look at the OTO and GD court cases to see how such laws could be misused.

(I am sorry---I still think that the legal system may have made a mistake in the OTO case. And given the flame wars surrounding the GD case, well, one can only imagine what would have happened if people could attempt to get websites shut down for copyright violations.)

I am not saying that we do not need such laws to protect intellectual property (copyrights); I am saying that the laws would cripple large parts of the internet that I care about if they are badly enforced and/or misused. If the SOPA and PIPA are passed, large parts of the internet focused on the occult could cease to exist. There has to be a better way to protect copyrights and deal with internet piracy.

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