Sounds so innocuous: Stop Online Piracy Act.
After all, ‘Pirates’ are all ‘bad’, so anything to get them off ‘our internet’ must be ‘good’, right?
We, surely, the Orwellian language is only a part of the trick here.
The SOPA hearings are being held today and it is difficult to believe that anyone who does not directly benefit financially from this legislation would be willing to support it. The effect of this legislation would be to chill free speech in ways to give Richard Warman and his Section 13 co-oppressors wet dreams in perpetuity!
Right now, even with the ‘moderate’, much less draconian legislation in place, the copyright infringement laws are being used to silence critics of big business – or even just independent voices (lest they become critical in the future).
In this example, a DMCA claim was used to censor a daily tech news episode which criticized a big-music corporation: under the law, a mere DMCA claim was enough to force a takedown of the episode for a minimum of 10 days. If you are running a daily news show, 10 days is an eternity… At least, under the DMCA rules, the news show could appeal to a judge…
And, of course, we all know that the US government has been known to censor a blog for over a year, denying them due process of law to get their property restored and name cleared.
Just to add injury to injury: not only are you guilty until proved innocent under SOPA, getting to court to prove your innocence will be much harder. And even if you were victorious and the courts found you innocent of all charges, you would not have a recourse to sue for damages suffered as the result of the false SOPA accusation!
Is this type of legislation even needed?
The Swiss government certainly does not think so: they have gone the opposite route. After studying the data for a long time, these legislators have concluded that downloading music/videos for personal use is not just perfectly legal, they claim it actually channels money away from copyright holders and helps the music/movie industry in the long run.
And what about the people who have been the most vociferous about the need for crippling the internet in the name of copyright protection? Surely, they themselves do not indulge in the very behaviour they wish to stamp out with knee-jerk legislation like ‘three accusations and you are permanently banned from the internet’, right?
“French President Nicholas Sarkozy is a man who has championed some of the most aggressive anti-piracy legislation in Europe. But today it’s revealed that the occupants of his very own office and home are responsible for a nice selection of pirate downloads using BitTorrent. Three strikes? Those with access to the Presidential Palace’s IP addresses have already doubled that quota. “
But, surely, those entertainment legacy industry movers and shakers who have lobbied the legislators for SOPA – the ones who claim that downloading movies and music for free would bankrupt them – surely they are not doing this themselves, are they?
“With increasing lobbying efforts from the entertainment industry against BitTorrent sites and users, we wondered whether these companies hold themselves to the same standards they demand of others. After some initial skimming we’ve discovered BitTorrent pirates at nearly every major entertainment industry company in the US, including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fox Entertainment and NBC Universal. Busted.”
And those ‘evil Pirates’ – they must be up to even more vile things…
…but only if you call building a school and bringing high-speed internet connection to a small farming village (which only had one dial-up connected computer for the whole village before) to be a bad thing…
Let’s hope the unanimous screams of protest from the citizens of the internet get heard!