blackout 011912

Blackout 011812

Sierra County Prospect blackout swings PIPA, SOPA votes; internet freedom saved for awhile

 

Yesterday, January 18, Sierra County Prospect and some other websites blacked out service to protest house and senate bills which would have given the government and even corporations the power to block entire websites from the internet. 

The blackout cut content completely from users in many cases, and the response to congresspeople and senators was overwhelming.  When the Prospect decided to blackout, there were only 29 legislators opposed to the bill.  This morning (Thursday) there are 102 opposed, and only 65 counted as still supporting the bill.

Unfortunately, those still counted as supporting the bill include Barbara Boxer 202-224-3553 http://www.facebook.com/barbaraboxer and Diane Feinstein 202-224-3841 http://www.facebook.com/DianneFeinstein.  Lines are open now.

The bills would essentially give the internet to corporations and allow them to control content available on the internet.  The U.S. government, of course, has already shredded the internet to make is “safe”, it has recently claimed it as “a domain of war” and now the final step is to hand it over to large corporations.

Part of the bitterness of this battle springs as an effect of the social change we’re undergoing.  Content producers complain that they can’t afford to hire big names and produce high dollar content if everyone in the world can steal it.

Social analysis might suggest that the large producers once battled with each other for consumer dollars, and in so doing, lived within an environment where intellectual property was tightly owned and protected by government.  The internet allows anyone to produce content, and consumers decide what content they’ll pay for.  If they don’t want the entire album, they’ll buy a song, or simply steal a song. 

Some point out that movies are now relatively easy to produce, and anyone can stream them on line.  Selling movies has been a slowly diminishing source of income, as people have access to movies from all over the world.  Small time producers of videos and movies can even capitalize by putting the content on a website, charging consumers nothing, and rake in bucks from advertisers who pay per page hit.  Not all content is first rate, but Hollywood turns out its share of dreck, too, and instead of allowing large corporations to create a stable of stars, consumers create the stars by simply going to a web page.  In short, the nature of content, words, music, and moving pictures, is changing, and the old power brokers are trying to save their guild. 

There are also those who suggest that devaluing corporate content will encourage those to practice their craft for the passion of doing so, instead of for money.  Being located in highly prosperous Sierra County, the Prospect is rolling in dough, and so would know nothing about that.

Content providers are also large corporations, and the only reason the blackout had an effect is because large corporations are supporting it.  The fact that the elephants are fighting should normally signal to us the grass to hunker down, but in the battle to prevent government and big business from penetrating every level of life, we need to rally behind the elephant whose interest most aligns with ours. 

Thank you to everyone who didn’t read the Prospect yesterday! 

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