Welcome to SpanThatWorld.com! The online home of the District Fellows Movement, the 16-20 age group of the cooperative children and young people's charity The Woodcraft Folk.
spanthatworld Against SOPA
Those of you who tries to log on on the 18th January will Know that spanthatworld joined hundreds of internet sites in the protest against SOPA. Here are the articles explaining what went down.
Louise Delmege (Comms Officer)
Today the American Congress will come together to decide if the controversial SOPA and PIPA bills should pass.
SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) is a bill that will give the US policing organisations and copyright holders the ability to prevent online sharing of copyrighted information, including songs, film and books. The US department of Justice and Copyright holders will have the right to seek court order against sites that infringe copyright law. The court orders will ban anyone from advertising on the sites, they will ban anyone from making a link to the sites, they will ban search engines from finding you the sites and they will require American based internet service providers to block these sites. The bill will make it a crime to share copyrighted material. If you make a film and use a song you do not own the copyright for, that is a crime. This crime has a maximum penalty of Five years in prison for ten offences within six months. The bill will give immunity to networks that comply with this act or voluntarily cut ties with any sites that host copyrighted content. If this bill passes many of our own videos will become illegal because of the music we used on them.
PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011) is a law that is similar to SOPA. It makes it easier for companies to have punished the websites and website owners that post copyrighted content. Especially those hosted outside of the US which have been safe from American law enforcement of this kind up until now.
This will affect our freedom to view the worlds information. It will stifle our creativity. It will allow massive American corporations to decide what we can and cannot see. It will return to them the monopoly on popular culture.
To protest against this threat to our liberty we have taken down our beloved spanthatworld (it’s deliberate this time) We are not alone, millions upon millions of people worldwide will, today, be unable to access the websites they enjoy and even rely on. The Minecraft Servers are offline, Reddit is offline, Google, Facebookand Youtube may also be joining us.
This minor inconvenience is just the start, if the bill passes it wont just affect America, it will affect internet users in the UK and worldwide, preventing us from accessing information and creative content, preventing us from accessing the melting pot of international culture.
But make up your own mind about SOPA and PIPA. The decision for spanthatworld to join the protest was made by three DF committee members, including Comms, one Regional Council member and the Webmaster.
Joe Woodruff (Ginger)
One of the best things about the internet is the ability to share, discover and enjoy media such as music, literature and artistic images freely.
Whilst some copyright breaches are damaging, such as illegal downloading of music or films, some, such as the use of a song as a video soundtrack, or the use of a quote from a favourite author, are harmless.
However, SOPA and PIPA will stop more than just the pirates; it will stop the flow of creativity, the sharing of ideas and the distribution of information through affecting sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia.
The revolutions, protests and demonstrations across the Middle East last year relied heavily on social networking sites and blogging sites for organisation and publicity, as did the Occupy protests – SOPA would see those sites shut down. An action that could have far-reaching consequences.
Joe MacMahon (Webfairy)
For me, the internet has always been about one thing: freedom through decentralisation.
The internet isn’t a black box of data hidden away in the back of a server room somewhere, it’s a nebulous mess of interconnected networks and servers with packets of data flying through it every which way.
The most important effect of this decentralised nature is that no single person or authority can “shut down” the internet — it can’t be unplugged or blocked. There’s a famous quote by John Gilmore of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which goes: “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”.
This is where SOPA and PIPA come in: the decentralised nature of the internet is compromised by the necessarily centralised DNS System, whose root servers happen to be owned by none other than the United States.
DNS works in a similar way to a phone book: it lets your computer look up the IP address of a website from the name (e.g. ‘spanthatworld.com’) so that your computer knows where to go to get the website.
What SOPA and PIPA do is grant the US government the power to strike strike sites off the DNS ‘address book’, supposedly in the name of anti-piracy.
The problem with internet censorship is that it always ends up filtering more than it sets out to: the debate about internet piracy is an interesting and difficult one, but it is fundamentally not the issue here. If you want to combat piracy, the way not to do it is through censorship – the internet is such a vast place that the pirates will just find ways to work around it. And then how long before the censorship ends up being used for blocking activist blogs, and social media sites?
The idea that a superpower nation – especially the US – could have the capability to do this makes for a bleak future for the free internet.