The one-day internet strike on January 18th, which I participated in by adding the “Stop Censorship” bar that still appears on this site, sending emails to my Senators, and tweeting my alarm at what the legislation meant, struck a blow for internet freedom. The sponsor of the bill in the House of Representatives withdrew the SOPA legislation, and that’s certainly a step in the right direction.
I didn’t go full-on dark on that day, because I didn’t think anyone would notice it if I did. But I did take action, and apparently I wasn’t alone. According to the numbers online, 45,000 WordPress sites, and 115,000 websites overall, protested against the proposed legislation. Wikipedia’s actions had a whole lot more of an impact than mine did, but I’m proud to have done something in this regard.
I couldn’t do what I do on this space without access to materials on the internet. The words are all mine, but the visual images that I use to fill this space often times are not. Nobody wants to just read words on a computer screen, and visual images and sounds can help to set the tone for what I’m trying to say. WordPress could shut me down for linking to an image of a capsized boat, or a baseball card from many years ago, or a video for a song that I like.
Like untold others who just want to make our voices heard, I don’t make any money from doing this. I couldn’t so much as buy you a cup of coffee from the proceeds of this venture. But it’s not about that for me. If somebody wants to shut this little corner of the internet down for not paying a royalty to use an image or link to a song, then I’ll just go away and stop doing this. I could use a lot more sleep than I get right now, anyway.
But voices like mine, and at least 45,000 others like me, should be heard. The media in this country has its own agenda, and they aren’t going to say or do anything that runs contrary to this agenda. I can’t start my own news network, because I have a family to raise and bills to pay. It takes nearly everything I can muster up to accomplish this, and in the few waking minutes that I have left over, I can at least type a few words on the computer, link to a news story or two, select an image to go with the idea, and post it up on the internet for a handful of people to see (the best handful there is, I might add). Should that be taken away from us, simply because the copyright holders want to squeeze a few extra nickles from me, and others who do the same thing I do? How would that make the internet–or society–a better place?
There will be other battles ahead, as the forces behind this legislation aren’t finished yet. They’ll plot strategy for awhile and come at it again from another angle. And when they do, we’ll hopefully be ready for them. There’s too much at stake not to be.