Can you imagine the government deciding where you can and can’t go on the internet? What about giving corporations the power to shut down businesses and websites they feel are promoting illegal sharing of media or simply not doing enough to prevent it?

Congress is currently considering a piece of legislation that, among more things than I can count, threatens freedom of speech, the exchange of information and ideas, and communication arts. If you have a moment, check out the video on the page I’ve linked and spread the word. If you have two moments, use the form below it to send Congress a message, or better yet, write to them personally.

I hesitate to deviate from what is normally an art-only blog, but the concept of internet censorship and the potential damage it could do terrifies me. The affect it could have on independent artists and creatives would be crushing. As such, I’m participating in a web-wide protest today by censoring my own website, and I’d like to share with you the letter I wrote to my state’s representatives with my plea against the Protect IP Act in hopes that maybe you’ll write one too.

To say that this bill is a step backwards in policy is a gross understatement. The net-savvy demographic the Protect IP Act targets will remain largely unaffected, while those who use it responsibly and those who rely upon it suddenly find themselves the victims of unprecedented censorship.

How can we applaud revolutionaries in strife-ridden countries for their innovative use of technology while passing legislature that may restrict, if not shut down, the very tools that facilitate their activism? How can we champion democracy and American values while undermining freedoms that have been promised and protected for over two centuries? How can we expect small businesses to survive in a global economy while simultaneously restricting their access to invaluable resources and communication tools, or worse, making them more vulnerable to crippling legal action?

I’m a 26-year-old, self-employed freelance illustrator. I support myself entirely through the earnings of my business by attracting clients from all over the world; a feat that has been made possible by the far reaching arms of the internet, free and unrestricted. The existing database structure and wealth of user-driven social networking platforms are what allow independent artists such as myself to reach millions of potential clients and fans with their work.

PIPA would kill us. It’s reactionary, vague, and clearly written by those lacking the technological expertise to be making policy on this subject. It’s a quick fix that panders to high rolling lobbyists in favor of an industry that already has an arsenal of legal protections at its disposal. You’re doing the citizens you serve a tremendous wrong by even considering passing this act, and this is just one of many wrongs we’ve been forced to suffer by one of the least respected congressional assemblies in the history of our country.

This time, do something right. Vote against PIPA.


Alexandra Douglass