on SOPA/PIPA

on SOPA/PIPA

Why hello there, Internet. You like this? You like this random spewing of crap from all sides, overloads of pictures and music, youtube, reddit, digg, wikis, lolcats, loldogs, lolbunnies, more cats, movies, cats, constant ADD-causing sensory overload that is the Internet?
So do I.
SOPA/PIPA is not the wonderdrug that legislators and their lobbyists make it out to be. And as someone who has taken two media law/first amendment classes and written a term paper on Napstera (way back in ’01, ya’ll!), I think I can shed a little light on this, not that anyone who’s spent more than two minutes on the Internet in the past three weeks doesn’t know what I’m going to say.
What congress is proposing is a violation of free speech and an impediment to progress. Blocking web sites because they might link to pirated content WITHOUT due process of the law is an egregious affront to our first and foremost basic rights in this country. While you might think that this is good and will prevent people from file-sharing movies and music, what you have to remember is that copyright law protects a lot more than movies and music (the MPAA and RIAA have the most pull as they have the most money, however). It also includes the WRITTEN word (in fact, what I’m typing right now, and why plagiarism is such an offense), PHOTOS, and anything that can be considered original content.
All those lolcats? Someone took the original pictures, and they are technically protected under copyright law. If the government is going to shut down every site that has a lolcat photo on it, the Internet will be a darn lonely place.
If the government is going to arbitrarily block sites that have any copyright infringement content on it, that’s a restraint of the OTHER content on the site – the stuff that’s not under others’ copyright protection that the author wants to be available to the world. And that is where the issue with free speech comes in. To do this without due process of the law? It’s like getting a double-whammy punch of TWO constitutional rights taken away from you.
But the problem here is that media have changed a LOT in the past 15 years. Ultimately, there is a problem with copyright law itself, not something that can be fixed by pushing through a bill that will give god-like power to one government to infringe on the most important thing for which said government is known. For a long time, copyright law covered text, music and movies in traditional media that were relatively innocuous to the copyright holders. With the huge burst of Internet communications/social media and the ability to deliver digital information at record speeds, there needs to be an examination of the medium and how copyright law should be changed to accommodate the medium.
What it comes down to is money. Lobbyists are a powerful thing, and congress likes lobbyists. The lobbyists – MPAA and RIAA (well, RIAA at least for sure) are sure getting a lot of money from the music they’re selling. Artists and performers don’t get much money from CD/legit music downloads sales – record labels get that privilege. So of course they’re going to be annoyed with pirating. Some artists have come out and said that pirating has actually made more people aware of their work, and that that’s a good thing.
And in the words of myself, since that won’t be breaking any copyright laws: “No matter what, people will still share files between themselves, and for every stagnant music label using copyright law as a shield, there is an equally intelligent college student ready to crack a problem that inhibits her ability to swap files.”

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