Help Stop SOPA/PIPA

You may not know it, but you are an agent of change.   If nobody has ever told you that, just take my word for it.  If you’re a voter, you are a potential agent of change….if you’re willing to act when needed.   Well, now there’s a very real need!

Normally at A Master’s Hands, we stay away from politics – in our business, and in our blog posts – and we don’t want to alienate any of our clients or those who follow our blog.  However, today, I’m breaking my own unwritten “no-politics rule”, because there’s something going on in U.S. politics right now that we need to make sure you know about and understand, because it affects all of us in many ways…some of which we might not even fully realize yet.

Using websites to blog, to publish, to communicate things online that once upon a time would have been relegated to an unread private journal (or simply remained unspoken, uncreated, unshared) makes you a part of one of the biggest changes in modern history: the democratization of publishing and the independent web.

Every time you read someone else’s blog post (like this one), or click Publish yourself to post a blog entry, you are a part of that Internet-based change…part of what is making the world “flat” (see “The World is Flat“)….equalizing things, leveling the playing field in many respects for smaller developing countries, giving them essentially free access to huge amounts of data, knowledge, etc.  So, whether you just like to read, or are posting political insights, a joke or a story about something that happened to you, this is a topic that should matter to you….a lot!  If you use free on-line services such as Craigslist, Backpage, Facebook, or other similar services, you also are experiencing the power of the world wide web…which is now suddenly at risk.

How would you feel if the web stopped being so free and independent?   We are very concerned about two bills that threaten to do exactly this, and as an active participant in one of the biggest changes in modern history, you should be, too.

You may have heard people talking/blogging/twittering about SOPA — the Stop Online Piracy Act. The recent SOPA-related boycott of GoDaddy was all over the news, with many people expressing their outrage over the possibilities of SOPA, but when I ask people about SOPA and its sister bill in the Senate, PIPA (Protect IP Act), many folks don’t really know what the bills propose, or what we stand to lose. If you aren’t shocked by the potential impact….e.g. the havoc that could be wreaked by SOPA/PIPA, please… for the next four minutes, instead of checking email or Facebook, watch this video.

Some thoughts:

  • In the U.S. our legal system maintains that the burden of proof is on the accuser, and that people are innocent until proven guilty. This tenet seems to be on the chopping block when it comes to the web if these bills pass, as companies could shut down sites based on accusation alone.
  • Laws are not like lines of computer code; they are not easily reverted/edited if someone wakes up and suddenly realizes there’s a better way to do things.  We should not be so quick to codify something this far-reaching.
  • The people writing these laws are not the people writing or overseeing the independent web, and they are certainly not out to protect it. We have to stand up for it ourselves.

Blogging is a form of activism.  You can be an agent of change. Some people will tell you that taking action is useless, that online petitions, phone calls to representatives, and other actions won’t change a single mind, especially one that’s been convinced of something by lobbyist dollars. To those people, we repeat the words of Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

We are not a small group. Millions of people use blog engines to post and to read news.  Millions also use sites such as Craigslist to help market their services.  If such sites were shut down simply based on one accusation, many small businesses would see revenues dry up overnight.  As an example, the blog engine we use to power our entire website for A Master’s Hands is called WordPress, an open-source (free) application.  WordPress is said to power about 15% of the web.  Each of us who are using and benefiting from this application can make an impact, and you can be an agent of change.  Go to Stop American Censorship for more information and learn about a number of ways you can take action quickly, easily, and painlessly.  The Senate votes in less than two weeks, and we need to help at least 41 more senators see reason to change their current positions on this proposed legislation before then.  PleaseMake your voice heard.

Thanks in advance! — Jim Bartlett, Founder