Stop #SOPA and #PIPA

Two bills before Congress, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and trample the First Amendment. These bills would impose harmful regulations on American business and would block legitimate uses of the Internet. It’s yet again another power grab by the government against individual liberty.

The Senate will begin voting on January 24th.

Wikipedia has removed its content for a 24-hour period today in protest of censorship. If you try to conduct a search on the site, you’re taken to a page where you can search for your Congress representative by ZIP code.

A number of websites have either blacked themselves out today or have posted other commentary concerning SOPA and PIPA. A number of sites provide petitions to urge Congress members to vote down these bills, including:

Here’s a good story about the issue by the New York Times.


Newspapers do not need the government’s ‘help’

The newspaper industry is facing perhaps its greatest threat in my lifetime. The Federal Trade Commission has drafted a document, “Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism,” which discusses the possibility of government involvement in newspapers. This document states ideas that have been proposed for government action that could “save” newspapers.

The document can be found here:

What are my initial reactions to this document?

First, it’s none of the government’s business how newspapers make (or don’t make) money. Do you enjoy it when your local paper reports politicians’ shenanigans such as wasting money, raising taxes, getting off on power trips or simply acting stupid? You can forget that happening if government money gets involved. Newspapers – especially in small towns — already fight a battle against giving in to advertisers’ pressure, whether it’s for photographing a silly ribbon-cutting or not running a story that might make an industry look bad. Can you imagine bureaucrats and image-crazed elected officials standing still for a newspaper shining the light of truth on their doings? I have witnessed a number of things at government meetings that officials would love to cover up, and government having fiduciary power over a newspaper will ensure that information never sees the light of day.

This document says to not worry about government funding for newspapers, drawing a comparison to public television funding. Well, I have news for them – public TV’s content is a controversial topic, and efforts have been made to censor it. Now imagine efforts being made to censor newspapers.

Nor are taxes an answer. Do you really want to pay taxes to support a private enterprise?

I trust the cleverness and experience of my colleagues to start making money once again from print advertising. People have been calling for the death of newspapers via the Internet for years now, as they once did with the advent of television news and before that, the advent of radio news.

Newspapers continue to make money, just not the glut of money they made in years past. Newspapers will change, but they will never die.

The government has absolutely no business being in the newspaper business, whether it’s in a form similar to public television or AmeriCorps. The Founding Fathers would spin in their graves if they knew about this government attempt to destroy the First Amendment.

The public can make comments here:

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