I have seen the links to articles, the pictures posted, and the hashtag updates (#Don'tBreakTheInternet) -- but honestly, I had no idea what all the fuss was about. How bad could it be? This doesn't really effect ME, I am not some corporation, I don't 'steal' music, I don't download movies, I don't do anything that could be considered piracy. Besides piracy is bad and it SHOULD be stopped, right?
|Piracy picture that I did not create, but found via Google Images.|
Well, here is what I discovered: SOPA will not stop piracy. Oh, and that picture up there that I just added? Yeah, the way this thing is written right now, I could have my blog virtually erased from the Internet because I didn't make it. I found it on the Internet.
Now, the guys that wrote the bill had good intentions. Internet Piracy, as you and I (average Internet users) understand it, is a very bad thing. It is people -- very bad, shady characters, mind you -- stealing music and movies and such and profiting from it and not crediting the source or presenting it as their own. And I agree that it should be stopped.
SOPA, however, and it's best friend PIPA (Protect IP Act) don't really do that. What they do, in a nutshell, is censorship. The language of the bill, as is the norm with EVERY proposed bill that I have ever read, is full of legalese and vague, ambiguous language that could easily be misinterpreted to mean sites like Pinterest, Wikipedia, reddit, and even my beloved Facebook could be liable for everything their users post. Heck, the way it is written now, I could be held liable for something a reader posts in the comments on one of my blogs.
Who would want this?!! This is OUTRAGEOUS! Well, turns out, lots of Hollywood types would like this to pass. They are afraid that they are being taken advantage of. Really? Did any of those people on the Golden Globes look victimized to you? Also big supporters of the bill are huge corporations. See, the way the bill is written, they could put a stop to all these little start-up companies who do what they do better, faster, cheaper, or whatever. They don't even have to prove anything -- just accuse them to get their site shut down and their funds frozen. SOPA puts a stranglehold on innovation.
Want clarification on that? Check out this video that I got from Youtube, or these 2 articles that I found while researching this post:
The authors above have already addressed and explained SOPA and PIPA much better than I ever could. I am a computer idiot. I researched "memes" today because I read an article about how they can increase blog traffic. I am still not sure that I know exactly what a meme is, but I am pretty sure that under SOPA they'd be illegal.
|Youtube would be drastically different if SOPA and PIPA were passed.|
That is why Wikipedia, reddit, and other sites (including one of my favorites -- Failbook) are going dark on January 18th in protest. A protest that the bill's author's say is "a publicity stunt." Maybe. But they don't want SOPA opponents to get anymore publicity. Wikipedia going down for 24 hours? I wonder how much homework will go uncompleted as a result of that. One thing is certain, it WILL garner publicity. Not for Wikipedia or the other sites though. Just for the anti-SOPA movement.
This article lists the sites that are participating in the blackout, and some of their thoughts on it: http://www.webpronews.com/sopa-blackout-set-for-january-18th-heres-all-the-info-2012-01
And this one, where the authors of the bill address the global blackout scheduled as a "Publicity stunt": http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71564.html
And, it should be pointed out that the congress that this bill is going to be presented to has NO IDEA what the bill says, what it means, how it will effect the Internet, or their constituents. Even for themselves. They don't use the Internet. They have staff and aides and kids and grand kids that use the Internet, but they themselves don't have to search online for articles, or content of any kind -- they don't do anything besides Tweet and update their Facebook status. They instruct those working for them to gather and compile information, but they have no idea what that actually involves. I searched and read and compiled the information just in this little blog post for HOURS.
|Sadly, this is sorta what happened when they were faced with this bill.|
In fact, one opponent to the bill found that one of the bill's authors, Lamar Smith, is a copyright violator. Here's the link to THAT article:
Can I ask a question? WHY does government feel the need to make every, single, piece of legislation full of language that no one understands? I am a fairly intelligent person, and I have looked at the actual bills -- they are almost impossible to decipher. Why can't the language be simple? Here is my example of an effective SOPA bill:
"Profiting from any content that is not of your own creation without permission from this day forward is ILLEGAL -- as in a FEDERAL crime -- and you could be arrested, go to jail, be sued, tarred and feathered, strung up by your toenails, and unfriended on Facebook."
Boom. Done. Maybe I SHOULD go into politics. This could be my poster:
|Oops. I guess SOMEONE doesn't want me in politics.....|