On January 18, 2012 Wikipedia and Google went dark. But this wasn’t a power outage but a deliberate protest against the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. Introduced in October 2011, SOPA was a continuation in the fight against online copyright infringement by aggressively pursuing and prosecuting online service providers who utilize and/or promote websites that feature copyrighted material. Essentially, its purpose was to make it even harder and undesirable for individuals to not only gain access to but to share any information deemed outside the public realm.
This week’s readings discussed the advent of the Internet, the World Wide Web (the Web), and how users have been adapting this medium to create faster ways to communicate and share the plethora of information we create everyday with one another. As librarians, as information specialists, we are keenly invested with providing easy access and dissemination points for this created information. But as Dominic Rushe’s article reminds us there are other organizations that are just as invested with denying this access and blocking online dissemination points. It is a question of a free, open Web versus one ruled by, what global free culture leader Elizabeth Stark calls, “a closed, copyright-protected world from before the digital age.” Similarly, Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia co-founder, believes that while copyright laws have some validity, “applying these rules to the digital age isn't going to work.” For now, SOPA has been defeated. The Internet fought back, which is to say that millions of Internet users made their opinions heard. But only time will tell and I believe that library professionals will have a big say in which way this battle goes.
Visit theguardian.com: battle for the internet series for more editorials and comments.