Protesting Internet Censorship – UPDATED

By now you’ve probably heard about the internet censorship bills known as SOPA and PIPA.  Most likely you’ve also discovered that several reputable websites are protesting these bills.  Sites such as Google, Wikipedia, and even WordPress are protesting SOPA and PIPA by either blacking out parts of their site or publishing black renditions of their sites.  What are they saying?  Here’s some information about these bills, straight from the sites protesting them:

(UPDATE:  As of Friday, January 20th, these bills have been SUSPENDED!  Keep watching though – we can’t let our guard down!)

(Wikipedia)
What are SOPA and PIPA?
SOPA and PIPA represent two bills in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate respectively. SOPA is short for the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” and PIPA is an acronym for the “Protect IP Act.” (“IP” stands for “intellectual property.”) In short, these bills are efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites, but, in our opinion, they do so in a way that actually infringes free expression while harming the Internet. Detailed information about these bills can be found in the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act articles on Wikipedia, which are available during the blackout. GovTrack lets you follow both bills through the legislative process: SOPA on this page, and PIPA on this one. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for the public interest in the digital realm, has [http//www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/01/how-pipa-and-sopa-violate-white-house-principles-supporting-free-speech summarized why these bills are simply unacceptable] in a world that values an open, secure, and free Internet.

(Mozilla/Firefox)

What’s this about?

Congress is trying to pass legislation that threatens free speech and innovation on the Internet, under the banner of anti-piracy efforts.

What’s at risk?

The proposed infrastructure would damage the security of the Internet and allow the government extensive censorship abilities.

What’s at risk?

The proposed infrastructure would damage the security of the Internet and allow the government extensive censorship abilities.

How is it done?

The US will be able to block a site’s web traffic, ad traffic and search traffic using the same website censorship methods used by China, Iran and Syria.

What about piracy?

Piracy is a problem but there are better ways to address it that don’t stifle innovation, knowledge and creativity — or give the US such unchecked power over the global Internet.

Did you notice a protest ribbon in the top right corner of this blog?  Fellow bloggers, you can do that too!  WordPress has given you the option to protest with a ribbon and/or a full blackout.  Here’s what WordPress says:

We are making it possible for you to participate in the protest. There are two options: a “Stop Censorship” ribbon and a full blackout. The blackout portion will be in effect January 18 from 8am to 8pm EST, while the ribbon will be displayed until January 24. Here’s how to join in:

  1. Go to Settings → Protest SOPA/PIPA in your dashboard.
  2. Select if you want to join the blackout or show a ribbon.
  3. If you choose to join the blackout, you can edit the message that will be shown on your site during the blackout.
  4. Preview what your protest will look like.
  5. Click “Save Changes” button to activate your protest.

That’s it! Easy-peasy activism right at your fingertips.

The “Stop Censorship” ribbon will display in the upper corner of your site and links to americancensorship.org. It will display until January 24, 2012 (the Senate vote date).

Readers and fellow bloggers, this is a very important time in the Internet’s history.  SOPA and PIPA need to be stopped, and they won’t be stopped unless action is taken on our part.  If you have a way to protest on your own website or blog, please do so!  Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, call your congressional representatives and tell them to stop these bills!  Keep the Internet open and uncensored for all in the U.S. by acting today!

WordPress’ Protest Article: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/join-our-censorship-protest/

Google.com

Firefox.com

Wikipedia.org

Advertisements

How Much Inspiration Is Too Much? – Eragon vs. Star Wars

Sometimes authors draw inspiration from existing novels, games, or movies.  To a new author, drawing inspiration from the creativity of others can lend a much-needed element of coolness to the new work, but how much drawing of inspiration can be defined as too much?

For example:  I recently read (well, listened to the audiobook of) Eragon for the first time.  The story was interesting enough, but some points of the storyline troubled me. Being somewhat of a Star Wars fan, I noticed these similarities:

  • Book intro started with a rebel lady getting captured
  • Scene shifted to a farm-boy living with his uncle in an evil empire headed by a powerful good-guy-gone-bad
  • Evil came to the farm, killed uncle, boy left with old man
  • Old man reveals past as mystic warrior (Jedi, Dragon Rider, what’s the difference?)
  • Old man dies protecting boy, helpful new hero comes
  • Boy and hero rescue lady, flee to rebel base
  • Epic battle ensues, where boy is the savior

That’s the basic storyline right there.  No joke, and I’m sure there are some finer points I’m forgetting.  So what’s the real problem here?

Now, don’t get me wrong, Eragon was still fairly enjoyable.  Parts of the story seemed original enough to me, so I listened to the whole thing.  But there’s a deeper issue here than Christopher Paolini’s apparent Star Wars clone (pardon the pun).  I’m not going to hate on the guy, but I will admit that I’m somewhat disappointed.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit that my own story has some Star Wars influences, but those have mainly to do with equipment and not the storyline itself.  I may be somewhat biased, but I think there’s a significant difference there.

Sometimes another person’s ideas are just too inspirational to resist, so you take the idea, tweak it a little, and then integrate it into your own works.  In some instances, the idea may become an important part of your work (why am I using the term ‘work’?  Because this topic doesn’t only apply to writing or film).  Sometimes it doesn’t really matter, especially if it’s a comparatively small similarity and you aren’t the only one using it.  But when your storyline seems to be matching another, it gets hard to honestly call it original.

These are my thoughts on the matter, and I’m very interested in hearing what you think.  If you’ve got an opinion, please leave a comment on the post and we can further the discussion from there!