Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Songs for Social Justice: SOPA / PIPA Blackout Day Protest Songs

This blog was written by John Powles at the Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust. STUC Unions Into Schools and the Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust have worked in partnership on the Songs for Social Justice Festival. We would like to thank John for writing this blog.

On Wednesday 18th January 2012 many internet sites intentionally blacked out for the day in protest against the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) legislation now being advanced in the USA. The day of protest has been judged a success by some of the major organisations involved. Wikipedia stated "More than 162 million people saw our message asking if you could imagine a world without free knowledge. You said no. You shut down Congress's switchboards. You melted their servers. From all around the world your messages dominated social media and the news. Millions of people have spoken in defence of a free and open internet." Meanwhile Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg urged people to protest saying "Tell your congressmen you want them to be pro-internet. We can't let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the internet's development. Facebook opposes Sopa and Pipa, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the internet."

Of course the internet with sites like YouTube, Facebook and the rest is a powerful tool for distributing activism against social injustice, including using songs as a vehicle for protests. Needless to say the SOPA / PIPA protests have led to the creating and posting of songs. The following examples demonstrate just how easy it can be to make protesting voices heard – no expensive equipment is required, no record industry moguls have to be grovelled to, no media pawns of government have to be persuaded – just do it and post it.

The first sample uses the age old method for creating a song of social justice – the adoption and adaption of an existing well known tune and lyric – in this case Don Maclean’s American Pie. Created by LaughPong, The Day The LOLcats Died - #SOPA #PIPA Protest Song [http://techcrunch.com/2012/01/17/the-day-the-lolcats-died/] includes some pertinent lyrics:

”Why, why are laws a thing you can buy? / They got paid off, should be laid off, re-election denied / Our web means more than lawyers, lobbies and lies / So speak up before the internet dies / Speak up before the internet dies”.

LaughPong - The Day The LOLcats Died

Finally in this brief selection Stop the SOPA Song is just a guy in his room with an acoustic guitar and some very clever lyrics:

Songs for Social Justice Dance Night featuring guest DJ Jerry Dammers -
o      Thursday 26th January
o      STUC Centre, 333 Woodlands Road, Glasgow
o      6.45pm – midnight
o      Tickets £8/£4 Available direct from the STUC - 0141 337 8100

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