As a citizen of the Internet, I assume you’re aware of SOPA/PIPA. It looks as if both houses of Congress have tabled the original versions of the legislation (largely because of the huge anti-SOPA/PIPA movement here on the Net), and are rewriting them to be more specific.
I am uninformed, and can only tell you my feelings on these pieces of legislation.
Very simply: I was alarmed by them.
Supposedly they were all about stopping piracy, and that’s fine. But the corporations pushing the legislation were playing a double game: they were pretending that it was all about cracking down on websites (mostly outside the USA) that illegally distribute movies and music and such, while they were really thinking of the law’s very real application within the USA as well.
Did you notice the word “corporations” in the above paragraph?
“Piracy” can be very broadly defined. “Piracy” could be something as innocent as a Tumblr blogger posting Disney images. “Piracy” could be posting a link to a song you like, or a video clip.
Which means that almost all of us out here posting our favorite quotes and links and clips on our blogs and on Facebook are pirates!
Not so, not so, croon the pro-legislation people. We’re only after the real pirates. David Pogue, who alternates between intelligence and toadydom, decided that the Google / Wikipedia approach – to black out their websites in protest – was an overreaction, and that they were siding with the pirates.
Well, yes, David, they were. This is because we are all part of a big incestuous system called the Internet, and it’s all about trading information. And Google, and Wikipedia, and all the rest, were perfectly aware that, once the legislation was in place, it would not be used merely to go after Swedish and Korean and Russian sites, but to go after sites here in the USA too. Sites like mine and yours and everyone’s.
How much of a pirate am I? Not very much. Last summer I watched the “Thor” preview on a probably-pirate Russian website, but – hey – a two-minute trailer? If I go to Hell, or prison, it will not be for that particular transgression. And sometimes I scoop up images to use in my blogs or on Facebook, and I do not always inquire about their copyrights. And sometimes I quote books and poems and all kinds of things, and I do not add complete copyright information (though I try hard to credit the authors).
But I suspect that I too would be in violation at some point down the road if SOPA/PIPA in their original forms were enacted.
Because that’s what corporations do. They restrict access.
The Internet is a zoo. I love the depictions of it on shows like “Futurama” and “The Simpsons,” with people actually entering it as if it were a place, flying around among buildings marked GOOGLE and FACEBOOK and ONLINE GAMBLING and NAPSTER. And that’s exactly what it’s like.
Frankly, it has always seemed to me that I have the right to share media with my friends. It’s like handing a newspaper or magazine to another person so that they can read something. I paid for it; am I the only person who can read it? Really? And how exactly are you going to enforce that?
I didn’t call my congressmen this time. But if this legislation comes up again, in anything like its current form, I will.
So there, David Pogue.