Wednesday, February 08, 2012


PIPA and SOPA – Why the Uproar?
By Joe Johnston

Like a poor, browbeaten old man and his shrill, nagging wife, the government of the United States of America has been barraged by the whiny voices of the entertainment and software industries for decades now. The growing stream of grumble from these monopolistic matrons has had only one coherent complaint on its cracked lips: that the US government is not flexing its considerable muscle enough to somehow put an end to the online piracy that is eating into these companies’ profits and ability to personally exploit struggling creative geniuses for corporate gain.

And like a bear awoken from its peaceful hibernation in the dead of winter, the US government has finally stirred its considerable self and decided to do practically the only thing it is really good at: overreact to the threat.

The incessant buzz of the entertainment and software bees is not completely devoid of method in its maddening drone. It is true that the tiny trickle of leftovers given to the actual artists after the conglomerates have all had their cut has been eaten into even more by online piracy. It is true that it is a sort of disrespect and devaluation of quality work to have it thrown to the glutted masses for nothing more than the price of an Internet connection. But the uproar about SOPA and PIPA has nothing to do with the proletariat rising up and demanding its piracy. The problem with these bills is that they go way beyond curbing the copyright infringement underbelly of the Internet. If these bills are passed, they will cripple the Internet as we know it.

PIPA, an acronym for the Protect IP Act, is the third face of a bill that has already been struck down twice by our wise leaders. The third time may well be the charm, but only if the charm means an even uglier and more nefarious potential abuse of power than ever. PIPA will bequeath to US corporations and the government itself the omnipotent authority to sue, punish, and financially cripple any site in the world that they deem to be infringing upon their copyrights.

SOPA, an acronym for the Stop Online Piracy Act, will work hand in hand with PIPA like a pair of gleeful, murderous twins with a grudge against the Internet. Much like the dreaded black list of the Cold War days, SOPA will give corporations and the government the unmitigated power to cut off from the Internet any site that they feel infringes on their copyrights in any way. Not only will this legislation enable these bullies to directly strangle any sites they don’t like, it will also allow the bullies to go behind these sites’ backs and order search engines to cut them off from their traffic and payment processors to cut them off from their revenues.

The main reason this legislation is so thoroughly vilified is because of its vague definition of copyright infringement. If these bills were passed, a video of a man walking by a Starbucks without explicit permission from the company to feature their logo could get YouTube sued for piracy. This article and the website hosting it could get immediately blacklisted twice just for the preceding sentence. A little girl humming her favorite Britney Spears jingle in front of a webcam could become the center of an immediate whirlwind of legal action, and her parents could incur penalties that would make Serena Williams’ $82,500 fine for talking back to a judge look like pocket change.

Call or write your state’s Senators today and insist that your voice be heard on this issue! Just don’t mention what brand of coffee you had for breakfast.

First published at Republished here without permission but with fair use.

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At 11:30 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to explain some of the implications of these acts, and for doing the research on it.


At 11:48 am, Anonymous joe said...

thanks man...actually i was paid heartily for this article


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