I hate to push another link/cause on you as a suggestion for the site, but this one, I believe, is just as important as #OccupyWriters. "American Censorship Day" is/was today, Nov. 16, 2011, and right now the U.S. Congress is having a vote on a landmark draconian piece of something awful legislature that could effectively bring about the first ever sweeping law establishing censorship in the so-called land of freedom of speech -- all in the interest of "intellectual property."
While I can fully understand the need to protect the rights of creative artists, this bill does little to encourage freedom of expression -- it in fact discourages it, forcing people to walk (or blog, tweet, etc.) on eggshells with the fear of criminal prosecution that may include a five-year prison sentence. It's not just limited to downloading music or videos or software illegally; the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) effectively criminalizes the most minute "infractions" upon intellectual property, from amateur song parodies on YouTube, to streaming media on sites like Playlist.com, to singing the famous "Happy Birthday" song at a public restaurant, the copyright of which is owned by Warner Brothers, but because of its date of publication (the early 1900s) really should be in the public domain. As to how this would relate to writers, someone posting a quote from a favorite writer on his/her blog or using it in his/her book could face a fine of up to $2,500 and possibly a criminal court trial. More notably, sites such as FanFiction.net would be shut down, and its owners, operators, and large user base could face the same criminal penalties, for the harmless act of authoring a "derivative work" based on their favorite characters or features. Were this established several years ago, authors such as Paulo Coelho and Cory Doctorow could face penalties for promoting the free distribution of their work independently of the copyright-holding publishing companies, and Stephanie Meyer for engaging with her user base via her famous Twilight "soundtracks" on Playlist.com.AmericanCensorship.org wrote:Risk of Jail for Ordinary Users
It becomes a felony with a potential 5 year sentence to stream a copyrighted work that would cost more than $2,500 to license, even if you are a totally noncommercial user, e.g. singing a pop song on Facebook.
This ties in similarly with the issue of "book-banning" for various purposes that is still an issue in the "free" United States, where even classic works of literature are restricted because of their content that certain authority figures deems "destructive" to a group of people they ostensibly intend to "protect." No one is being harmed by reading Tropic of Cancer or Catcher in the Rye, just as no one really "loses" anything when a fanfic is published, a playlist goes online, or billions of internet users around the world come up with new and creative ways to incorporate original content with that of their favorite producers. Bothersome and annoying as it might be, the (in)famous Rick Roll meme that appeared around 2008 or so could've wound its promoters in prison, or at least facing heavy fines, for using the copyrighted Rick Astley song without an official seal of approval from Astley's record label.
I hope you will visit the site raising awareness of the American Censorship bill, and encourage your readers to oppose this obvious overstepping of government boundaries that would effectively "kill" the Internet and the most fundamental principle of American freedom, the right to freedom of expression even if unpopular among certain groups (in this case, multibillion-dollar studios, publishers, and other "content owners"). To put a fanfic writer or amateur DJ, who obviously hasn't got the funds to request licensing from all the major publishers, studios, and recording companies for "fair use" of other works, in a prison cell with thieves and drug dealers, and classify them as "digital collar" criminals, is something that a certain George O. whose work about a dystopian world set between 1983 and 1985, would classify as more than "thoughtcrime." While "thoughtcrime," as the hero Winston S. wrote in George O's famous novel, "is death," any amount of "trumped"-up "charges" for "illegally" streaming The Apprentice, that's crime and punishment (apologies for the "abridgment" of a certain deceased comrade Fyodor D.) a fate far worse than death.
Dozens Hundreds, if not thousands of others (including Boing Boing, Mozilla, the EFF and the Free Software Foundation) are already in opposition to this encroachment of citizen free speech, lobbied for by the money-grubbing members of The Mysterious One Percent. I hope you'll express your support too, and encourage more to do the same. Thank you
http://americancensorship.org/First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution wrote:Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press...