Today, Wikipedia went black. So did numerous other pages with free information on the Internet. As I am sure most of you have heard, the American Congress is on the verge of passing a bill called SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act. SOPA is a piece of legislation created by old men who have little or no working knowledge of how the Internet truly works (remember a few years ago when one of them, now admittedly retired, angrily exclaimed that the Internet was “a series of tubes”?) and who believe that they can wave legislation around and magically fix what they perceive as a problem, using nothing but their righteous anger.
Don’t get me wrong. I consider Internet piracy reprehensible. But I am old enough to remember a time, when computer games suffered from inflated prices, and where every kid I knew copied games between them, because it was the only way to afford them. I remember those times, twenty years ago. A few computer game developers caught the hint and decided to lower their prices, or at least freeze them, and the net result is that a new computer game today, costs less or the same as it did in 1993 when I got my first PC. These days, I buy games. I don’t copy them, and I wouldn’t dream of having a copy of a computer game on my machine, unless it was freeware.
Regardless, internet Piracy today is a problem. When people go “Oh, I want to play that game, one moment while I download it”, it turns my stomach. It really, genuinely does. They are the reason why the games are still as expensive as they are. The same with movies. Or music. Gods know it’s hard enough to make it as a musician but at least in the case of music, several bands are sharing music freely now.
And let’s face it, in the case of music you can turn on the radio and listen to it for free.
Yes, you can watch movies on the telly as well, but you have less choice in the matter then.
Bottom line is, piracy is a crime. Simple as that.
But what SOPA does is punish everyone, even people who have never broken the law. It makes the sharing of information almost impossible.
And I will prove this with one simple example, which may sound ludicrous or exaggerated, but which is fully possible and covered under SOPA.
Let’s say your cousin has a child of three. This kid likes to dance. Your cousin thinks this is hilarious, not to mention quite cute, and so uploads a video he has shot of his kid, dancing around the room to an old Beach Boys classic. The clip goes viral, because frankly, the kid is adorable. Within a month, he has 50.000 views.
Your cousin has an ex wife who doesn’t like him. She sees the video and, seething with indignant rage, she contacts the authorities.
Next thing you know, your cousin is slapped with a lawsuit for having played copyrighted music without permission on the Internet worth a certain amount per hit … so 50.000 times maybe a dollar fifty (possibly more, doubtfully less). His homepage is closed, and he may find himself on a black list, unable to get a new internet connection from a regular Internet Service Provider.
All because he thought he had an adorable child, who likes to dance, and he wanted to share it with the world.
Or another example. Let’s say you post photos of yourself at home, with a poster in the background. You bought the poster legally. But because you have now shared it with the world, you are slapped with a fine for copyright infringement.
Think these are extreme examples?
This is exactly what SOPA has been created to prevent.
I am not a member of the group called Anonymous.
But I support them in their struggle against this.
We must all refuse to accept SOPA. I will through civil disobedience if it comes to that. This is a matter of protecting the right to free speech and free access to information. The Internet does not belong to anyone, least of all the United States government, whether that government is led by a Republican or a Democrat.
This is something we as free people must not and should not accept.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 at 5:05 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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