OpenMeetings.org will join other organizations including the Internet Archive, Mozilla Foundation, and the Wikimedia Foundation in suspending core services for all EST hours on January 18th, 2012 to protest consideration of Stop Online Piracy Act (“SOPA”) and PROTECT IP Act (“PIPA”), two bills under active consideration in the U.S. Congress. During this time our main page will redirect to Electronic Frontier Foundation’s home page which provides relevant background information on the issue and helpful call-to-action instructions.
However, we will have real-life presence at an Emergency NY Tech Meetup outside the Manhattan offices of U.S. Senators Schumer & Gillibrand. Watch for User:GChriss, probably with a video camera in hand.
Our participation in the blackout is for the same reasons outlined by Kat Walsh, a Trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation:
“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.”
Many of our indexed meetings contain elements of “fair use” – a short audio segment, an illustrative graphic, or video clips embedded within presentations and discussions. Inclusion of these elements as commentary/criticism on underlying ideas are classical examples of “fair use” provisions in the copyright act. If SOPA and PIPA became law – a very real possibility – we would become vulnerable to politically-motivated takedowns – or even attacks on our existence – on material deemed as politically inconvenient.
Finally, we’re a small project that very much welcomes donations to keep us running.