|Minecraft.net as it appears today Jan. 18, 2012 in protest of SOPA and PIPA|
Your kids may have noticed (especially if they are home on a snow day like mine are) that both Wikipedia and Minecraft are blacked out today to protest SOPA. Nate was pretty angry that Minecraft was down, but once we explained why, he was on board.
So...how do you explain to your kids why their favorite game is down?
We explained that there are already rules about copyright. There are many ways for someone who owns a copyright to enforce those laws. Some people (mostly big corporations) who hold copyrights don't feel that those rules are strong enough. They want to make sure that EVERYONE on the internet, even kids like you, have to obey very strict copyright rules.
Then, we used Justin Beiber as an example (thanks, Colbert Report!). If SOPA had been in place Justin Beiber wouldn't be the big star he is today, in fact his mom might be in jail. When he sang other people's songs - which are copyrighted - and uploaded them to YouTube, he would have gotten in trouble- just for singing a copyrighted song and putting it on the internet! Since his mom was the one who uploaded those videos she could have been sent to jail for up to five years. YouTube would also have gotten into trouble, and could be shut down for allowing Justin Beiber to upload his performance videos. Because of how much trouble YouTube could get into, they may stop allowing people like you and me (and Justin Beiber) to upload videos, and would only be able to get videos from major corporations and other verified copyright holders.
SOPA also asks internet providers to deny access to any international site that violates these rules. So even if Justin Beiber DID make his video, and put it up in Canada, with SOPA Comcast would block your computer (and any computer in the U.S.) from being able to view the entire site that had the video.
Now think about all the user created content that makes the internet so great. Videos of you and your friends lip-synching or dancing to popular music could get you or your parents thrown in jail. If you post a picture that you didn't take on Twitter, you could go to jail. If you write a story featuring Disney Princesses or Transformers and post it on Facebook you could go to jail. And YouTube and Twitter and Facebook would be so worried that they would get in trouble, that they would stop allowing you to post anything, effectively changing the internet.
So what can a kid do? A kid can write or call your legislators and encourage them to protect the internet for the future. Both kids and parents can click this link to look up their representatives. Call, email or write and do it today!