Yesterday I was looking up Keith Hernandez on wikipedia when I came across the following banner from wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. It read, “Imagine a world without wikipedia.”
So I did.
I played the “What is the first thing that comes into your mind?” game with the wikipedia banner and the following popped up in no particular order:
- I can imagine a world — it’s called a library and they have real reference books there.
- Wow, how presumptuous and arrogant has wikipedia become that Jimmy Wales can presume that the world would halt if his “precious” site stopped functioning?
- Outside of seventh graders doing book reports, does anyone really use wikipedia so much that its loss would mean the end of anything?
- I know that world. It’s called five years ago. And I made it through just fine.
- Wow — that world sounds nice. In that world I can watch a movie without having to pause and look up every reference, followed by the web-tornado link activity that results in me googling the lyrics to the Facts of Life.
- What is wikipedia protesting? SOPA and PIPA? I’ve never heard of them. Let me look them up. Dangit! Wikipedia is blacked out. I’ll try googling it. Dangit! Google is blacked out.
- I know that world where wikipedia and google do not exist. It is called North Korea. Okay, wait. Maybe I do not want to live in that world.
After finding a loophole in the wikipedia blackout (Oh, you press the “esc” key right after the page loads) I was able to look up SOPA and PIPA on wikipedia and find out what these important bills are all about. Here is what I discovered:
SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) has two aims: 1) To protect intellectual property rights of content and media creators (See Music and Film peoples) and 2) To protect against counterfeit prescription drugs sold on the internet.
PIPA (Which is a shortened version of the PROTECT IP Act, which is the shortened version of the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011) seeks to prevent rogue websites from selling counterfeit goods (See Music and Film) on the internet. To enforce this bill the government would create federal agents (see Jason Borne, Jack Bauer, and Michael Westen) who would protect and enforce copyrights by ALL MEANS NECESSARY.
Okay, I made that last part up.
But basically the driving force behind these two bills is the RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America. The RIAA has been after one central question since I was in college, “How can we stop piracy? — not the Somolian kind — the college past-time that was essentially invented and made popular by entities such as Napster, Gnutella, Limewire, and Bittorent.
Not that I want to wade too far into this debate, but here were some initial thoughts I had when I discovered that sites were protesting these acts:
1) I find it funny that the same logic driving Ron Paul’s campaign (No to bigger government) is the same logic driving wikipedia and google’s opposition to SOPA and PIPA. And yet, Jimmy Wales is not a fan of Libertarianism. He is simply opposed to people saying no to him, which is an understandable human condition.
2) I also find it funny that the RIAA wants to enforce a moral and ethical code against piracy. This from the industry that blatantly pushes a musical ethos of hedonism. I think to myself, “Wait a minute…you promote a “do what feels good” ideology in the lyrics, videos, and culture of your musicians and yet then want to also ask the government to arrest music pirates, many of whom are just doing what feels good? Houston, we have a problem.
Let me keep going.
The RIAA recently released an article listing the top-selling artists of the OOs. The winners included Michael Jackson, who sang Don’t Stop Until You Get Enough, Nickleback, who wrote the song S.E.X., Kanye West, who rapped the song, Addiction, and Britney Spears, singer of Gimmie More.
Seriously? You want to stop people from following the dominant ideology of pop music that YOU PROMOTE AND MAKE MONEY OFF OF — namely, that people are not stopping until they get enough? Where do you draw the line, RIAA? You run to the government to protect YOUR interests from your interests?
3) This is very intolerant of companies like Google and Wikipedia to disagree with the belief that copyrights should be enforced and to go so far as to take a position AND to boycott. Why not simply say something like, “While we disagree with the proposed Acts, we want to politely respect their unique viewpoints and worldview.” This is very different from the Google Chrome “It Gets Better” Campaign that promotes such an air of tolerance. I found this PIPA/SOPA protest to be inconsistent with Google’s espoused worldview.