When you need to learn about the behavior of the common hedgehog, write about The Last King of Scotland, or need to fact-check a paragraph on cratons, you might be left without answers on Wikipedia today. The bold protest of Wikipedia, reddit, boing-boing and others over the Stop Online Piracy Act is not without reason. The law may be designed to affect copyright infringement, but it definitely doesn’t act that way if you read the law itself, and note all of the tech folks complaining with real concern. It would be more appalling, had only Congress been smart enough to realize that their lobbyists in the big biz media had a purpose to the law.
The Oatmeal offers a hilarious take on SOPA. Due to mature koala themes and a blue word, I have decided not to directly link it. Watch it, it’s funny.
Chris Heald has a far more serious and detailed examination, and as chief architect of Mashable.com, it’s worth a read from someone who actually knows the net. He also includes direct links to portions of law you may or may not be familiar with. He also distinguishes the difference between the more-reasonable DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), and the SOPA/PIPA versions.
In fact, if you look at it from the DMCA standpoint, these new laws are specifically designed to allow the government to do the dirty work of corporate media. SOPA doesn’t do anything more than allow the government to directly do what the corporations are supposed to do themselves. In fact, it’s a more egregious form of corporate welfare, where they get government lawyers, while everyone else is now “guilty” until proven innocent.
For the internet itself, the last bastion of free thought (both good and bad), the philosophy of free markets and free speech come to bear upon each other. After all, the same people who want to promote free speech and free markets must also accept that there will be problems with the process of both ideas. In the greater argument, this is why capitalism is the better choice, and freedom is the better concept, warts and all.
But if we move on SOPA/PIPA, we make the same mistake countless others have made in Congress, where laws are written by people who have no industry experience, or worse yet, were lobbied to do so.
We would be no better than a nation-state that censors its citizens, or any other true statist regime. In fact, we would be worse, because at least China admits their oppression. The media speaks very little about SOPA, and politicians are rarely asked about it. If not for the strange combination of protest by Senators Rand Paul and Ron Wyden (wow), we’d already see lawsuits flying.
And if not for the large response of the tech world, including giants like Google, we wouldn’t have a clue what this law would entail. It’s like the recent authorization of defense funding that included a ridiculous notion to jail any US citizen without trial, so long as you were offended or scared of terrorists. It’s that bad of a law, folks.
And in the end, we hope Congress is wise to listen. And I’m hoping the actual media listens to this. Because SOPA doesn’t just get pirates or bloggers. It can get media as well. The old media can’t let this not happen, because the internet has simply killed them. From even the publishing aspect, Amazon’s publication capability has destroyed the Big Six. And the new media is the only media.
So what does old media do? Ask Congress for a law to protect them at the expense of everyone else. It becomes even more ridiculous, because the grandiose entertainment industry refused to share their online profits with the content providers (writers) themselves, remember? Yes, the same people complaining about content protection are the ones who refused to pay the people who wrote and made all of their shows! The writer’s strike underscores the lobbying going on for SOPA today.
Fitting, I say. As a content provider myself, I don’t care for copyright violations either. But to hear these same media groups who stiff their writers…Then complain about piracy as if it was their words being stolen, I’m not as sympathetic.
SOPA isn’t a good idea. There are countless consequences to consider, and this law is less about piracy as much as it is preservation. And if combating piracy includes burning down the entire house…Remember, it’s never been their house at risk.
It’s yours. Mako out.