"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop SOPA and PIPA

Normally I try to keep political stuff off this website but sometimes exceptions must be made. This is one of them. Congress, with the support of members of both parties, is currently in the process of trying to pass two laws called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Act). The laws were essentially written by lobbyist to give corporations the power to protect their copyrights. Sounds good right?

Here is the problem. The laws as written gives corporations the power to legally censor the internet without due process by blocking any website they feel might have copyrighted or pirated content. Proof is not necessary nor required.

In a day and age when most people agree they want smaller government this is the single greatest expansion of power we have had in nearly a decade and it turns it all over to corporations on the assumption they will not abuse it. Do you trust corporations and the government to make the right decisions on what websites can live and die? I don't and nor should you.

They don't have to prove a thing in the process of taking down infringing websites. So this may mean sites like The Pirate Bay might get blocked in the United States but it also gives corporations the power to block any website they choose as long as they put it in terms of copyright infringement or piracy.

In the process though that means corporations have the power to remove Wikipedia (can argue images used in articles violate copyright), YouTube (videos contain copyrighted images or music), Google (search results link to sites with pirated material), and even this website or your favorite Transformers website. What about your favorite forums? All those avatar images of favorite characters, movies and actors? Yep that forum could be yanked for violating copyright.

The problem though can go further. What is to stop corporations from yanking a site, say Rotten Tomatoes, because they aggregate (aka "pirate") content from other websites to reach their scores? Or say Ain't It Cool News posts a bad review of a movie? Maybe Disney decides to launch their own streaming service. Sure would be useful if Netflix was taken down in the United States because they used copyrighted images or accused of streaming pirated content (remember proof isn't a requirement). Never mind the kind of fun groups like Anonymous could have by faking they represent real corporate interests.

Now you are thinking "they wouldn't abuse this power". Except they already do. You may have heard stories of the RIAA suing old ladies without computers, deaf people for pirating music and little children. The MPAA tried to send a girl to jail http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giffor posting about five seconds of a movihttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gife, just because it was in the background of her birthday party. YouTube is riddled with take down notices because videos dared to have kids dancing to copyrighted music. Universal Music recently even had a music video taken down, claiming infringement despite having no legal right, simply because it sung the virtues of a website they did not like.

When it comes to power, the question is rarely if it will be abused, but simply when. These laws will be abused. It is not a question of if, just when. It simply makes it too easy not too. The law gives corporations the power to do whatever they want to the Internet in the United States. If the last 10 years have proven anything, we can't trust corporations to do the right thing and we should not start now.

Graphic | Learn More | Take Action | Contact Congress

1 comment:

  1. SOPA act: USA #1 on the web NO more!
    Web is complex, piracy stop Nerver worked.
    Old media stinks and is gone anyway
    Only stupids politicians go along.
    Triggering a western spring/summer!