As I wrote about, yesterday was a day of protest against SOPA and PIPA. These bills are nominally designed to stop piracy of copyrighted works, but they actually run the risk of destroying the internet. To some extent, the protests were successful. They raised a lot of attention among the public and newsmakers, and most importantly, people acted. Millions of people contacted their legislators, and Congressmen and Senators who previously co-sponsored the bills withdrew their support.
Interestingly, the protests produced counter-protests. Former Senator Christopher Dodd, now head of the MPAA (a big proponent of SOPA and PIPA), said that websites’ choice to go dark was “an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today.” To which @mindjuju responded, “MPAA calls the Internet going dark in protest of SOPA ‘An abuse of power’. In related news, the Eye of Sauron accuses Hobbits of terrorism.” (a tweet that was rapidly retweeted across the internet). Senator Patrick Leahy, a sponsor of PIPA, said, “Hiding behind the black box of self-censorship does not resolve the problem that is plaguing American business and hurting American consumers.”
I will admit the piracy and illegal downloading of copyrighted goods is a bad thing, and people who do it should be punished. That is why there are laws already on the books to do so. But to claim it is a plague, and to respond by crafting a bill (or approving of a lobbyist-written bill perhaps?) that could destroy the internet is a HUGE overreaction. Crippling the internet would hurt American businesses, consumers, and our economy far more than piracy does. Do not be fooled.
And do not, for one second, believe this was the end of SOPA and PIPA. Hearings are set to resume in January and February. Keep contacting your elected officials. Do not let this go. Perhaps this time opponents of SOPA and PIPA will be allowed to testify before Congress and the Senate, unlike last time.
Remember, this is about letting one industry, who has repeatedly shown that it cannot adapt to the future, have far too much effect on others. Do not let the entertainment industry ruin what has become the world’s most powerful tool for education, communication, and invention. PREVENT PIRACY. PROTECT LIBERTY.