By Dominique Sterling |Staff Writer|
Wikipedia closed its doors to all English language website users on Jan. 18 for a 24-hour protest against proposed Congressional legislation. One of the world’s main sources for free information became no longer accessible.
Wikipedia is known as an Internet-based encyclopedia that many college students use as a quick reference, yet are often told by their professors that it is not a creditable source of information. Although many of our professors tell us not to use Wikipedia for research, I still refer to it as a tool of reference.
How people prepare for tests and write papers is one thing, why Wikipedia blacked itself out is the bigger issue at hand.
Wikipedia protested against both the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (IP meaning Intellectual Property), which have been proposed in Congress. If passed these acts will prohibit users from uploading and sharing files as openly and as freely as they do now.
I find the possibility of these acts passing to be very scary. While Wikipedia’s protest was taking place, their website page was dressed with a black background and an announcement that simply stated “Imagine a world without free knowledge.”
Accompanied with that message there was also a quick overview of why the protest was taking place. Lastly they left a section where you had the ability to contact your state representative by looking them up with your zip code.
Wikipedia will continue to get my support in the fight for a free and open Internet. “Our mission is to empower and engage people to document the sum of all human knowledge, and to make it available to all humanity, in perpetuity. We care passionately about the rights of authors, because we are authors,” Wikipedia’s executives stated in the announcement.
According to CTV News, there was one tweet that made a lot of noise within the realm of social media. “Under SOPA, you could get five years for uploading a Michael Jackson song, one year more than the man who killed him,” tweeted user @Jon4Lakers.
SOPA is a bill proposed in 2011 to fight online trafficking in copyrighted and counterfeit goods. Proposals include barring advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with allegedly infringing websites. It would also bar search engines from linking to the sites that may have infringing information within its site and it would require Internet service providers to block access to these sites.
Maximum penalties for breaking these laws would be a sentencing of up to five years.
Although there are a handful of Internet users who misuse the freedom of the Internet, many others use the Internet as a way of their exercising their freedom of speech.
As an avid music lover I love having the ability to search the Internet and discover new music artists. One of the arguments of legislators is that the music industry is suffering because of piracy.
I agree that artists should be compensated for their work, but SOPA is not the answer to correct piracy, it would have a negative impact on the Internet and its users by playing big brother.
Sites like Pandora find balance between users’ wants for free music and the artists’ profits and rights, the future of music on the Internet lies in sites like this- not SOPA.
SOPA is just not a practical way of addressing piracy and could be the first step into a world of government-controlled Internet for America.