Do It For The Kids: Stop SOPA and PIPA!

by Sandra Foyt on January 18, 2012

in Service Projects

I’m interrupting our regularly scheduled programming to talk about freedom.

By now, even the most die-hard Luddite will have heard about the hotly-debated legislation that would censor the Internets – SOPA and PIPA. The bills before Congress don’t state the intention to put a stranglehold on creativity, but well, there are writers who have explained why that’s the likely consequence way better than I can. Check out any one of the resources listed below to see what I mean.

Instead, I’m going to tell you why I’m speaking out against SOPA and PIPA now, and in the future.

A Reading of Jellyfish Stew

A long, long time ago I started a little blog to chronicle my homeschooling journey. On that blog and also on my son’s blog, we shared the products of our educational experiments. A big part of that was using all kinds of multimedia tools – Animoto, YouTube, VoiceThread, and many more – to breathe life into my son’s education.  And it worked. The reluctant writer became a prolific reader and writer.

Along the way, it’s possible that we might have violated copyright rules. I think our projects were covered by fair use rules, but at least one of my videos had content that raised flags with YouTube. They put an alert on the video, and I did  whatever was necessary to remove the alert.

If SOPA and PIPA were adopted, YouTube could be shut down just because I made an honest mistake as part of the learning process. If censorship of the Internet is approved, how likely is it that teachers will use multimedia tools to enrich learning?

Ask a teacher how easy it is (or isn’t) to go online in many schools across America. Ask if their students are allowed easy access to digital tools. You may be surprised to find that many school districts already place heavy restrictions on technology – and that’s without the added burden of proof currently proposed.

I believe that all artists stand on a foundation of the genius that came before, but that that precedent can be a virtual minefield. I’m concerned that it is irresponsible to empower lawyers to wield a weapon that they don’t understand, created by politicians who are clueless about the Internet. And, as a parent, I want my children to live in a world where they can learn without fear.

As of midday on January 18, 2012, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is dead-in-the-water, and I would be extremely surprised if the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) doesn’t follow suit. But though this battle may well be won, the war could easily be lost if we don’t remain vigilant. Canny and well-funded lobbyists will make certain of that.

It’s up to us to stay informed and to speak up.

TED Talks: Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)

STOP SOPA and PIPA Resources:

| Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, photographer, and road trip junkie. A veteran of six cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the fossil freeway, the extraterrestrial highway, and even “the loneliest road in America.” Find her on GetawayMavens.com, an award-winning destination guide to extraordinary travel in and from Northeast USA, on her portfolio site at SandraFoyt.com, and in freelance gigs on Family Travel 411, Minitime, Huffington Post, and Matador Network. Email: sandrafoyt@albanykid.com, Twitter @SandraFoyt.

Cie McCullough Buschle January 18, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Excellent post Sandra. Thanks.

TechyDad January 18, 2012 at 11:27 pm

SOPA isn’t dead yet. Lamar Smith has vowed to push it forward despite opposition.

Also, that YouTube video that violated copyright? Under SOPA, you could be sent to jail for 5 years for that. Yes, 5 years in jail and a felony conviction on your record for uploading a single video. Very scary.

Sandra Foyt January 19, 2012 at 4:36 pm

It’s absolutely ridiculous. The worst of it is that decisions will be made by people who know little or nothing about the subject. I’m already tired realizing that this is only the beginning of what I think is going to be a very long battle.

Catherine Jones February 19, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I don’t feel like we’ve won anything. Once Megaupload went down i said to myself “ok, it’s just one in a sea”, but then a lot of other filehosting websites started to close just by being afraid something like that could happen to them too. Those owners didn’t go to prison, they closed shop with their own hands.
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Sandra Foyt February 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Yeah, I don’t think it’s a matter of winning. At least I hope that be speaking up we’re able to prevent complete loss of freedoms.

Sylvia February 22, 2012 at 11:03 pm

If you thought SOPA was bad, just wait Until you meet ACTA.
ACTA had move forward in Europe despite protests.
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