You may have noticed that Wikipedia and Reddit are shut down today. Google’s search page is different, and all the hubbub is about something called SOPA and PIPA. What’s up? Well, the █████████████ ████████ is not in favor of a free internet. Corporate interests, including publishing companies like ██████████, recording companies like ███████ ███████ █████████, and film companies like ██████ are pushing to have the ability to unilaterally shut down websites that host (whether intentionally or unintentionally) pirated content.
So if, say, you’re reading a funny thread on your favorite forum, and someone cracks a joke about how █████ █████████ looks just like ████ from ███████, then links to a picture of ████ and ████ to illustrate that, well. They just pirated content, and the website they posted said pirated content on can be taken down because of a user — not an owner or financial stakeholder in the website, but a user. It doesn’t matter whether the website condoned the activity, or whether the user was a minor or an adult. It just matters that certain copyright-dependent corporations don’t like it when people cite their work without giving them money.
These bills are real. The concern may sound hyperbolic to the average American citizen, but be assured: it’s not. You know how we, as a people, have seen the news stories about internet censorship in other countries? About Twitter and FaceBook being blocked or internet access removed altogether in countries revolting against their government, like Egypt? You know how Google and China keep clashing over censorship? All that seems removed from us, doesn’t it? You’re probably thinking, “Yeah, but that’s China. We live in America.”
What SOPA and PIPA do is allow for and indeed encourage censorship — in fact, they use censorship as the heavy arm to enforce the will of corporate interests. These bills are a blatant attempt by corporations that depend on copyright law — copyright law that has become ridiculously tight and strict over the past few decades, and no longer reflects the right of the creator, but instead reflects the rights of the copyright owner (usually a company), often at the expense of the creator — to censor the web so as to fit the world order they know, rather than adjusting to the future.
I can guarantee you two things about SOPA and PIPA:
- It is censorship.
- This is such a terrible idea that even if it somehow manages to get passed and signed into law despite the obvious opposition, it will be revoked.
I don’t know when or how, but this bill is similar to the Prohibition effort in it’s scope and complete ineffectiveness. This is the modern Prohibition — the Prohibition of the Internet, and it’s just as poorly conceived.
So call your representative. Let them know that SOPA and PIPA are terrible bills, and do nothing to address the purported evil of piracy. One way or another, these bills are going to end up in the annals of history as one of the Worst Ideas Ever — do we want to be the nation that passed these idiocies and suffered under however many years of censorship and ever-harsher measures against presumed violators, or do we want to be the nation that laughed these moronic pieces of legislation right out the door?