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Dear readers, as many of you are quite familiar with the internet (and for those of you who aren’t, there’s the wikipedia link for it, go get some education about this tool that you’re somehow, inexplicably using), I’m sure that you’ve heard of piracy. No, not that kind of piracy.  The kind that results in lawsuits because of something you downloaded from a totally legitimate and completely not illegal site. Online piracy is a huge issue, because the nature of the internet allows for people to transfer files via channels that aren’t accessible to your typical user. Most users aren’t even entirely certain of how things work, and don’t care, as long as the internet button brings them the research or the music or the porn. Seriously. They just don’t care. If someone threw an unopened carton of Oreos at your feet, would you question the legality of how those Oreos were obtained? Or would you just grab a glass of milk and chow down? With the internet, most people don’t question where content comes from. When you have what is essentially the combined knowledge of all of humanity at your fingertips, you use it.

That accessibility could change drastically. Some of our lawmakers have determined that the best way to fight piracy and protect the people who produce the content we find is to exert control over what can be viewed. SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, is a bill that was introduced in October of last year, and is threatening to end the internet as we know it. Yes, that may sound dramatic, but this bill is overkill and then some. Let’s start with the full title of the bill: “To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes.” —H.R. 3261. You know what scares me about that title? Those last four words, “and for other purposes.” That’s way too vague, and way too Big Brother-y for my tastes. I’m not going to hand the government the ability to filter what I’m going to look for online.

There’s plenty of information on SOPA out there. Get out and access it while you can, and learn the truth.

Wikipedia will be going dark for 24 hours, in protest of SOPA. If you can’t access the majority of the links in my posts, now you know why. I support internet freedom. If you do too, and you live in an area represented by one of these individuals, please contact them and ask them to reconsider their position. If your representatives are against SOPA, call them up too, and thank them for protecting you.

Yes, internet piracy is bad, but the current wording of SOPA and the associated bill, PIPA, is not conducive to maintaining freedoms that we are promised as Americans. As it stands, SOPA will hurt everyday web users far more than it will hurt the pirates. It’s far more likely to incite a “worldwide arms race of unprecedented ‘censorship’ of the Web,” according to Vint Cerf. This isn’t the way to stop the piracy. This is the way to stop progress. Fuck censorship. Stop SOPA.

7 Comments

  1. Well put, Philip. I’ve been furious about this from the start. I’m not a fan of online piracy, which the anime community has a lot to say about, especially lately, but I also don’t want the government telling me I can only use the internet on their terms.

    • Pretty much my concern too. I loved the video that Kyle Hebert put up about Bandai, and I absolutely agree that something needs to happen. However, I don’t think that giving the government control over certain sites is going to be the way to stop piracy. I dunno. Maybe we need to have internet privateers…ooooooo…I like this idea.

  2. I wholeheartedly disagree with you. Americans for too long have abused the freedom given to them and because of it, the government not only has the right but also the duty to curtail freedom for the good of society. PIPA and SOPA is an aim towards curtailing the abuse by Americans who goes against the wishes of those who own intellectual property.

    When a movie is produced, the producers own the rights to the movie and they have a right to dictate on how it is consumed. Consuming the movie in a way that goes against the desires of the producer should be considered a criminal offense. You buy a DVD, if they want you to watch the ads, you are to watch them before watching the movie.

    Same with TV programming. As Time Warner Executive Jamie Kellner remarked, you watch a TV program, you re to watch the commercials with them. Doing otherwise is considered theft.

    Many Americans when they consume entertainment, a lot of times, they enjoy it in a way that goes counter to what the Entertainment Industry wants. That must stop ! Intellectual property MUST BE PROTECTED ! In order to protect that, Americans must give up certain freedoms for the benefit of the Industry. Americans doing anything they want and how they want needs to be curtailed ! That is why most of the world does NOT like Americans ! It is time for American’s to do things that conforms to what rest of the World wants !

    • I found your reply fascinating, Mark, and it left me greatly interested in what you do for a living. However, I respectfully disagree. While I do believe that intellectual property must be protected (I’m a writer, after all), I believe that the internet needs to be allowed to continue to function in its current state. You say that it is the right/duty of the government to “curtail freedom” for the greater good. However, the First Amendment to the US Constitution states: “Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” No abridging of the freedom of speech, or of the press. None. SOPA and PIPA deal almost exclusively in just such abridging.

      You mention advertisements in TV, and previews before movies, but we don’t HAVE to watch them. We haven’t had to since the invention of home video. We can fast forward. If I hit the menu button on my DVD remote, does that make me a criminal? No. If I record a TV program and skip through bits that bore me, or might be offensive to my family, should I be punished? No. I don’t see the MPAA going through the trouble of making me watch every preview every time I want to watch any one of my movies, especially after I paid for them. I can’t imagine anyone taking the time to ensure that I don’t get out of my seat and get myself a snack during one of their precious commercial breaks, lest I prove myself a thief. Personally, I would far rather see no new content coming out of Hollywood for a year or two, or ten, even, if it meant that I got to maintain my freedom. They ran out of good ideas a long time ago, if the wave of awful remakes and sub-par sequels hasn’t been any indication. You can say it’s for the “benefit of the industry” if you like, but there is no way Americans will give up their freedom and conform to the rest of the world to protect the entertainment industry. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, after all. Saying that our refusal to be censored is the reason that other countries don’t like Americans is complete rubbish. Our country was founded for the purpose of NOT doing what other countries wanted us to do.

      Piracy is rampant around the world, not just in the United States. Our government is not the first to attempt to exert control over it. China, Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan all maintain incredibly strict control, and are known as “Enemies of the Internet” for this. Over a dozen other nations have internet access very carefully monitored. You can call me stubborn, but I believe that SOPA is the exact opposite of what America needs to rein in piracy. If these bills pass, the government would have control over user-generated content sites, in one of the greatest threats to American creativity that has ever come about. It’s not going to do anything to stop the dedicated pirates. One of the most notorious sites on the web, thepiratebay, even issued a press release. You can read it here: http://static.thepiratebay.org/legal/sopa.txt

      Protecting intellectual property can, and should be done, but not like this. Censorship is an infringement of creativity, not a safeguard for it.

    • drugsloveandthelaw
    • Posted January 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm
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    • Reply

    Ugh, it’s gonna take constant vigilance to stop this from happening because we all know it’s going to keep coming up. Alas, the price of freedom.


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Black March « The Swords of the Ancients on 06 Feb 2012 at 1:43 am

    […] spectacular on one of my favorite sites, and I had to share it with you, particularly after my earlier post on SOPA/PIPA. Here it is. If this actually works, we can change the world drastically. Share this:TwitterLike […]

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