Internet Blackout Day Starts in Protest Against PIPA and SOPA
I spend a considerable amount of time on the internet. And I'm not talking just social media and planning my financial future. By definition, I am a RESEARCHER. I hunt down and dissect original documents with the goal of piecing together history in an ethical and professional manner. As I can't get myself to the Library of Congress or the Allen County Genealogical Library in Indiana in a jiffy, I do rely on scanned copies of original documents and books to complete my work.
Today, I got a taste of what life was like before internet resources became available to the public. My GO-TO library of historical publications, the Internet Archive (www.archive.org) was dark. Scrap that idea of being able to read the 1793 book written by the minister of our town's only church. Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) ? I don't use it as a "primary source," or original source of information, because it isn't one... but it sure works on getting the ball rolling on which facts to confirm elsewhere in original documents. Uproar was everywhere, from the Huffington Post to FaceBook, and even Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said he would no longer back the legislation he co-sponsored.
Because the current legislation being considered hasn't passed, I was freely able to access other sites with original documents. Only time will tell how internet users can occupy the cloud to make their collective democratic voices heard, but this new world is certainly wild. Oversight and regulations do need to be put in place to protect copyright laws, but collateral damage to online sites that support primary research should be carefully considered as the laws are fashioned.
Beth Finch McCarthy