Today’s Resolution: Appreciate the Internet

Today is a planned black-out for many of your favorite websites as a statement against the businesses (Walmart, Adidas, Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Coach, Comcast, CVS, Ford, Johnson & Johnson and so many more)  and politicians who supported the now extinct  Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Thankfully it was denied from the White House, but it’ll be back in another form, and Protect IP Act (PIPA – the Senate’s version of the act) is still being amended. More about those two.

From the outside, the movement looks like what it’s intended to do, stop piracy. However, if either were to be passed, it would significantly change the way that we use and engage on the web.

Forget dancing to a Katy Perry song on YouTube and getting all YouTube famous like Bieber. In fact, you might as well forget YouTube all together because there’s no way user-generated sites would survive.

Sites like these (that includes Facebook, Twitter, etc.) would suddenly be liable for everything their users post. If a user posted copyrighted material (as many do, unknowingly), the site would not only be fined, but people could actually go to jail, and the site hosting the content would be completely shut down indefinitely. And that’s just on suspicion.

Currently, the major internet giants like Google, Yahoo, AOL, Twitter and others are adamantly opposed, as should we all. After all, the web was meant to be free. Information is free. Sharing is free. SOPA/PIPA would not stop piracy because pirates are smart enough to quickly change IP addresses and re-launch sites under new names. It just doesn’t make sense. Unfortunately, the internet giants are up against these giants: the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Oh and all those major brands I mentioned.

So while we’re likely in the clear for now, if you enjoy the American privilege of freedom of speech, prefer not to have an internet run by corporations and government, and you believe that the open web is worth saving, your resolution today is to appreciate the Internet. Even those YouTube videos of people singing like a dying flock of seagulls.

Otherwise, the internet is going to start looking a lot more like this: