Katy Guest: Rant & Rave

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The Independent Online


I looked on Wikipedia just now to read about Sopa, the American Stop Online Piracy Act that has got everybody, especially Wikipedia, all upset. Wikipedia led about 7,000 websites in a day-long blackout to protest against the Act, which they say amounts to censorship. At least, I think that's what happened, but I read it on Wikipedia, where all the information might not be true.

As a journalist, I love Wikipedia (though as one over 30, I confess I don't understand Megaupload, whose users retaliated by attacking US government sites when the Department of Justice shut it down on Friday); but as a literary editor I feel for authors who are desperate for laws like Sopa to prevent their work from being completely ripped off. The internet generation has become used to getting free stuff, and on the whole the creators of content are very happy to have them read it. But the inevitable consequence of paying nothing for your music, books and, dare I say, newspapers, is that people will have to stop making them and get proper jobs instead. Sopa needs improving, but "freedom of speech" is a poor defence for stealing someone's living. It's a sad result for Wikipedia, Megaupload and all of us if freedom of information ultimately leads to no reliable information at all.


There are many fine things about the new film The Iron Lady: Meryl Streep's uncanny performance in the lead role; Anthony Head as a suave Geoffrey Howe; remembering all over again why we hated Thatcher ... but by far the best of them is Olivia Colman. I understand why the Thatcher family is not happy about the film, and I wouldn't recommend that they see it. A key scene shows Colman, as Carol Thatcher, caring for her mentally disintegrating mother, who only wants her golden-boy son, Mark. Colman's just-controlled welling up is a brilliant piece of acting, but for Carol, it must be bad enough knowing that your mother prefers your feckless twin; worse to know that it is a national joke. However, if one must be played then best be played by a great British actress. Let's have Colman in every British film in 2012.