Web powerhouses Google and Wikipedia lead an online protest today about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), legislation presently being considered by the US House of Representatives. It’s easy for congressmen to rubberstamp what the bill claims it’ll do: piracy has a pretty crappy optics, and not just off the Somali coast. But wait, cry the Information Wants to Be Free folks: this bill will be ruinous to freedom and, wait for it, JOBS.
Arguments on both sides resonate. As currently written SOPA (and its flow-curbing cousin, PIPA) would give draconian powers to government overlords, allowing them to shutter whole operations for minor and innocuous infractions, which are difficult at any rate to control. On the other hand, it would really be nice if people would stop stealing our blood, toil, sweat and tears, plead old-fashioned, analog creatives, like the people who make television shows: what if TV started appropriating Silicon Valley apps, in the name of freedom? What’s most jarring perhaps is the first significant public exposure of Google’s lobbying voice, normally reserved for privileged ears, and how familiar (and establishment) it sounds: pointing fingers, doom-saying, and crying jobs, jobs, jobs.
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