Getting serious about SOPA – what librarians need to do

SOPA 2011
Original image thanks to Christopher Dombres and Creative Commons licensing.

I oppose SOPA unequivocally; it’s vague, it’s anti-free-speech, and it won’t solve the problem it’s designed to combat. One of the things that is tricky about SOPA–the legislation moving through Congress that threatens to enact stiff penalties for online piracy–is the number of things you need to understand to even understand what it does. I’m very good with computers and I had to spend sometime getting my head around it. I suspect my legislators may not even understand what it means to start messing around with DNS files to essentially take a website “off the internet” if it’s found [through a not-very-confidence-inspiring process] to be hosting infringing content. The website I work for hosts almost no content but links to a lot of things and we could be mistakenly shut down for linking to people who host “illegal” content.

So, I think we need to do a few things: understand how this bill is supposed to work, be clear in our opposition to it as a profession, work with other people to inform and educate others so that people can make their own informed choices. Here is a short list of links to get you started.

I feel that we as a profession need to be understanding this legislation and the mechanisms that it is threatening to dismantle or undermine. When big media companies who already enjoy tremendous market dominance and access to legislators and platforms for distributing their message decide they have their minds set on something, it’s important to balance the playing field.

12 thoughts on “Getting serious about SOPA – what librarians need to do

  1. In addition to educating ourselves and others we should also remember to write/call our congressperson and show others how they can inform Congress of their opinion. Everyone that cares about this issue or similar issues should always write or call their local congressperson. Informing Congress of our opinion is a civic responsibility. Educating folks as to how to find out who their local congress person is and how to best contact them is a useful skill to promote.

    That being said I would also like to mention PopVox and OpenCongress as two wonderful tools that help citizens get better informed and get their voices heard.

    SOPA on PopVox
    SOPA on OpenCongress

  2. Thanks for the mention, Jessamyn! This is too important a topic to ignore, not just for libraries & librarians, but for the entire nation.

  3. This is a scary piece of legislation because of its very vagueness. Should it pass, people will be caught in its web without even knowing about it. Just how the heck are we supposed to know what else might be stored on sites we link to? On the other hand, every time some asinine piece of legislation passes or some new form of DRM is created the technological geniuses find a way around it and share it with all of us. Corporate greed gets beat in the end. Somehow I don’t see this stopping the big-time pirates in China and other places like that.

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