Wikipedia is going black for a day on January 18, 2012. They state their reasons here.
The words that prompted this post follow:
But although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence is not. As Wikimedia Foundation board member Kat Walsh wrote on one of our mailing lists recently,
We depend on a legal infrastructure that makes it possible for us to operate. And we depend on a legal infrastructure that also allows other sites to host user-contributed material, both information and expression. For the most part, Wikimedia projects are organizing and summarizing and collecting the world’s knowledge. We’re putting it in context, and showing people how to make to sense of it.
But that knowledge has to be published somewhere for anyone to find and use it. Where it can be censored without due process, it hurts the speaker, the public, and Wikimedia. Where you can only speak if you have sufficient resources to fight legal challenges, or if your views are pre-approved by someone who does, the same narrow set of ideas already popular will continue to be all anyone has meaningful access to.
Intellectual property law is entering a new phase. It's been around for years, but in the past, it was lawyers for big companies arguing with each other, for the most part.
But now, in this age of the democratization of the creative process, the processes associated with creation have changed.
Piracy laws are intended to protect the creators and give them rights to earn from their creations. It's never been a straightforward process of course, but now it affects all of us more than ever. To participate fully in the digital world of social media we create culture by sharing and changing what we see around us.
I could still learn to play, let's say, a Lady Gaga tune on a piano. The piano cannot yet recognize that I have played copyright protected material. What happens when it can?
How do we protect the ability of creators to make a living from their creations, but avoid the continued creeping of corporate interests in the process of creation?