protest post (from 2012-01-18)

Message from yesterday, as a gentle transition from full black-out to what passes, fingers crossed, in the fragile meantime as “everyday normality.” (NSFW)


Reason: to protest proposed U.S. legislation that threatens internet freedom: the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). While threats to internet freedom are a worry, there is worse. This legislation would have an impact outside the U.S.A. Meta-meta-medieval, for example, is hosted on WordPress and thus potentially affected. Even though its writer is based in Canada, and is a British subject and Irish citizen. She would thus be subject to a foreign law, in whose enactment she had had no say, passed in a country where she has no vote and no political rights. The proposed legislation is contrary to precepts of international law, conflict of laws, and indeed principles enshrined in the American Constitution itself. To quote a Canadian: “isn’t it ironic?”

Meta-meta-medieval and Juliet O’Brien therefore stand (silent) in solidarity with the WordPress protest. In solidarity with her American sister and brother bloggers. Against regulation by ignorant irresponsible people who don’t know what they’re dealing with, and/or aren’t smart enough to have thought things through and carefully considered all implications and ramifications, and possible future interpretations, extensions, uses, and abuses. For justice and fairness. Against censorship as a matter of principle. End of obrienaternal message.

Over to WordPress: “From personal blogs to giants like WordPress and Wikipedia, sites all over the web — including this one — are asking you to help stop this dangerous legislation from being passed. Please watch the video below to learn how this legislation will affect internet freedom, then scroll down to take action.”

(then there was a video)

This being meta-meta-medieval, why not take advantage of the opportunity for some medievalism and medievalisings.

Some good explanation, gloss, and commentary:

(click for list of striking sites / sites on strike)

The best of all, from The Oatmeal:

It’s derivative ingenuity at work. Pre-modern creativity. The kind of mixing, refashioning, conflation, translatio that any Medievalist recognizes at once as The Home Turf.

Sorry: correction: the kinds of free imaginative activity that’s been around for most of human history, across cultures: with Western European and North American print-culture modernity as a blip, an aberration, a tangent: I am sure, an evolutionary blind alley. Sure, come round and laugh at me if I’m wrong: we might need to give things a decade or two.

Preserving some of the most popular (and standard and serious-looking) messages for posterity (though not as serious and profound as the Oaty one above:


Meanwhile, over on Wikipedia, here’s what else happened and got reported by all the Big People, inc. SHOCK HORROR WOULD BE ILLEGAL screenshots taken all over ye webbe:

From Wikipedia’s Learn more: some gratuitous copying and pasting. Enjoy such things while you can, O gentle readers…

What exactly is Wikipedia doing?
Wikipedia is protesting against SOPA and PIPA by blacking out the English Wikipedia for 24 hours, beginning at midnight January 18, Eastern Time. Readers who come to English Wikipedia during the blackout will not be able to read the encyclopedia: instead, they will see messages intended to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA, and encouraging them to share their views with their elected representatives, and via social media.
Why is this happening?
Nothing like this has ever happened before on the English Wikipedia. Wikipedians have chosen to black out the English Wikipedia for the first time ever, because we are concerned that SOPA and PIPA will severely inhibit people’s access to online information. This is not a problem that will solely affect people in the United States: it will affect everyone around the world.
Why? SOPA and PIPA are badly drafted legislation that won’t be effective in their main goal (to stop copyright infringement), and will cause serious damage to the free and open internet. They put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won’t have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors, even if copyright isn’t being infringed. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won’t show up in major search engines. And, SOPA and PIPA build a framework for future restrictions and suppression.
Isn’t SOPA dead? Wasn’t the bill shelved, and didn’t the White House declare that it won’t sign anything that resembles the current bill?
No, neither SOPA nor PIPA are dead. On January 17th, SOPA’s sponsor said the bill will be discussed in early February. There are signs PIPA may be debated on the Senate floor next week. Moreover, SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. In many jurisdictions around the world, we’re seeing the development of legislation that prioritizes overly-broad copyright enforcement over the preservation of individual civil liberties. We want the Internet to be free and open, everywhere, for everyone.
Aren’t SOPA/PIPA as they stand not even really a threat to Wikipedia? Won’t the DNS provisions be removed?
SOPA and PIPA are still alive, and they’re still a threat to the free and open web, which means they are a threat to Wikipedia. For example, in its current form, SOPA would require U.S. sites to take on the heavy burden of actively policing third-party links for infringing content. And even with the DNS provisions removed, the bill would give the U.S. government extraordinary and loosely-defined powers to take control over content and information on the free web. Taking one bad provision out doesn’t make the bills okay, and regardless, Internet experts agree they won’t even be effective in their main goal: halting copyright infringement. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a really great post about some of the more dangerous SOPA and PIPA provisions.
What can users outside of the U.S. do to support this effort?
Readers who don’t live in the United States can contact their local State Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or similar branch of government. Tell them that you oppose the draft U.S. SOPA and PIPA legislation, and all similar legislation. SOPA and PIPA will have a global effect – websites outside of the U.S. would be impacted by legislation that hurts the free and open web. And, other jurisdictions are grappling with similar issues, and may choose paths similar to SOPA and PIPA.
Is it still possible to access Wikipedia in any way?
The Wikipedia community, as part of their request to the Wikimedia Foundation to carry out this protest, asked us to ensure that we make English Wikipedia accessible in some way during an emergency. The English Wikipedia will be accessible on mobile devices and smart phones. Because the protest message is powered by JavaScript, it’s also possible to view Wikipedia by completely disabling JavaScript in your browser.
I keep hearing that this is a fight between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Is that true?
No. Some people are characterizing it that way, probably in an effort to imply all the participants are motivated by commercial self-interest. But you can know it’s not that simple, because Wikipedia has no financial self-interest here: we are not trying to monetize your eyeballs or sell your products. We are protesting to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA solely because we think they will hurt the internet, and your ability to access information. We are doing this for you.
In carrying out this protest, is Wikipedia abandoning neutrality?
We hope you continue to trust Wikipedia to be a neutral informational resource. We are staging this blackout because, although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence actually is not. For over a decade, Wikipedians have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Wikipedia’s existence depends on a free, open and uncensored Internet. We are shutting Wikipedia down for you, our readers. We support your right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, even if they can’t pay for it. We believe people should be able to share information without impediment. We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA and PIPA (and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States) don’t advance the interests of the general public. That’s why we’re doing this.
What can I read to get more information?
Try these links:

Wikipedia’s articles on SOPA and PIPA

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of use for details.

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