The False Ideals of the Web – op ed piece by Jaron Lanier

“The proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, which is being considered in the House while the Senate looks at a similar bill, is deemed the worst thing ever. Popular sites like Wikipedia staged a blackout on Wednesday to protest the bills. Google put a black banner over its name. Nothing quite like that has ever happened before. This is extraordinary, because it shows that belief in the priority of fighting SOPA is so absolute as to trump the stated nonpartisan missions of these sites.”

Absolute positions are not the foundation for healthy discourse. Web vigilantism does a disservice to the need to fight the politics of SOPA. Rising above the political discourse is what’s needed; SOPA demonstrates a lack of understanding of the ideals of the web; we need to express these ideals in ways that promote freedom of expression and define new, and fairly negotiated roles, for intermediaries who provide value to the creators of intellectual property.