Imagine a World Without KnowledgeThe education technology community has been in an uproar today regarding the two bills currently in the house. As a community that has embraced Web 2.0 for its educational benefits, these bills could be crippling to all of the progress that we have made over the past decade.

EdTechTeacher’s Justin Reich and Beth Holland have sent Anti SOPA and PIPA letters to the representatives in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Excerpts of their letters are pasted below. If you are looking to bring this issue into your classroom, you may also be interested in these resources:

From Justin’s Anti SOPA Letter to Rep. Markey, Sen. Kerry, and Sen. Brown

I write to you in strong opposition to the current SOPA and PIPA bills that have been introduced into Congress. I write as a constituent in Arlington, MA, as a former classroom teacher, and as a current education researcher….

…SOPA and PIPA are not responsible solutions to these issues, and the cure they offer is considerably worse than the disease. The bills place far too much liability on content hosting sites (many of which are essential for providing a 21st century education to students in schools and college) for occasional and temporary infringements from user-generated content. They provide far too much power to wealthy copyright holders who can use the threat of expensive legislation to restrict freedom of expression on the Internet and threaten the Fair Use principles that are essential for educators to exercise their rights to use copyrighted material for educational purposes. As we continue to work together as a nation to create a climate of innovative entreprenurialism that will move us out of the Great Recession, the last thing we need is a bill that severely curtails the free exchange of legitimate ideas, goods, and services on the Internet in order to make marginal progress on dealing with the issue of piracy…

You can read the full version at EdTechResearcher.

From Beth’s letter to Rep. Cicilline, Sen. Reed, and Sen. Whitehouse

…As a voting constituent, and maybe more importantly, as an educator, I am writing you to oppose these bills. I’m sure that you have read dozens of letters regarding the need to stop piracy. Yes, it is an important issue. However, this legislation does not appear to be the solution.

For the past decade, the Internet has brought enormous resources to the educational community and revolutionized the ways in which we, as teachers, can prepare our students for the challenges of the 21st Century. However, the core of the values that we have strived to inculcate in our students – to synthesize, analyze, communicate, collaborate, and create – are all threatened by this bill…

Rather than impose mass legislation that will cripple the creativity, ingenuity, and economy that have come to characterize the 21st Century, why not educate the public about fair use, creative commons licenses, and copyright law. Why not examine the legislation (the last copyright amendment addressing the “Digital Millennium” was 1998)? Why not require schools, colleges, and universities to teach digital citizenship?….

Beth has posted the full version of her letter on her blog as well.

If you would like to join in the conversation on Twitter, look for EdTechTeacher @EdTechTeacher21.

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