SOPA 2012

Today (January 18th, 2012) is when a coordinated effort by most of the major web sites and services (Google, Wikipedia, The Oatmeal) have ‘gone black’ in protest of  H.R. 3261 or ‘Stop Online Piracy Act.’ We’re not going black because, honestly, it requires more CSS scripting than what I currently know.

I personally oppose SOPA and the Senate bill PROTECT IP/PIPA or S. 968 because we currently have legislation on the books that counteracts piracy and that both SOPA and PROTECT IP/PIPA are draconian, broad strokes of power that will, in the wrong hands of zealous enforcers, fuck up the internet.

We here at Gravedigger’s Local 16 (and our podcast, 6’+) are proponents of Intellectual Property Rights. We support the idea that if you make the work, you should be credited and that no one should steal your creative property. We also believe that if you put in the time and effort to make something, you deserve the fair credit.

Similarly, as you can tell from Weird Jon’s many posts, we also support the idea of there being a Public Domain. While we respect creative rights and intellectual property protection, we can’t support any kind of efforts that limit artistic expression. If someone wants to utilize Frankenstein or Dracula as a symbol of runaway legislation or greed-motivated lobbyists in an artistic statement, they shouldn’t be fined or prevented by the Shelley or Stoker estates since both creators have been dead in the ground for over a century. “Art as a commodity” should have a shelf life, where “art as expression” is timeless.

SOPA and PIPA are on the side of “art as a commodity” in an alarming way. While they are in the good intention of stopping illegal action, the wording of both pieces of legislation are frighteningly broad, granting powers that will interfere with search engines and take down websites without due process. Both pieces, SOPA in particular (since PIPA has been put on hold thanks to Senator Ron Wyden) are threats to the Internet AS WE KNOW IT. 

Of course, the Internet is always going to change. That’s what makes it great. Fifteen years ago, we were using 56k modems to log into AOL and CompuServe networks. Today, your cell phone is faster than your 1996-era computer and there’s a wireless network on the bus you take to school. Acts like SOPA and PROTECT IP look to restrict growth to where progression is reduced to a standstill.

I personally want to see Net Neutrality enforced, so I’m not opposed to all legislation in regards to the Internet. I don’t want to see the Internet Provider companies divvying up service and reducing access to sites THEY decree to be ‘lesser’ anymore than I want the government to automatically, without due process, shut down sites that THEY decree to be ‘illegal.’ A balance between “regulation” and “free” is best and SOPA aims to tip the scales.

What can you do? I’m jaded so the idea of going to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, filling out my information and sending a form letter to my congressional representatives seems pointless to me. But I did it this morning, anyway. It seems pointless but pointless actions are better than no action at all. Plus, I got to call Charlie Rangel a motherfucker so there’s some joy in that.

SOPA and PIPA are bad legislation and if you don’t want to see the Internet get fucked up, sent some kind of correspondence (write, call) your Congressional reps. That is all.


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