The Biggest Form Of Free Speech Is Under Threat Thanks To SOPA

Originally Posted by Onegai:

Image from Wikipedia

SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act was introduced on the 26 of October last year (2011)  and there is still much debate as to whether it’ll get passed or not but things aren’t looking good. The idea was to strengthen US law enforcement’s ability to fight online piracy. Sounds okay (for most of us). Except for the part where a website accused of enabling piracy can shutdown or at least kept out of the US by blocking access to the site in question. Well there’s a flaw or two (or a thousand) in this:

How the hell can a massive imageboard/forum moderate every post before it appears? It can’t. So that means we’ll either see the destruction of many online forums or such a slowdown that you’ll be posting a week in advance before your post appears.

How can social networks like Facebook and Twitter deal with this? They can’t. The number of users they have is so astronomically high that complete moderation is impossible and as such they rely on automated processes and other users reporting abuse. So for those of you you who live online, you can kiss your social life goodbye because after a few hundred users post links to pirated stuff, Uncle Sam is gonna block his ALL people’s access to those services.

How will online filesharing sites handle this? They DEFINITELY WON’T. As one of the primary methods of distributing pirated material, you can say goodbye to access to Megaupload, Rapidshare, Mediafire, etc. I wonder what effect that’ll have on the freeware community? How many devs out there rely on these services to distribute and backup their stuff?

Finally, kiss Youtube goodbye. There are countless home-made AMVs, music videos, montages, etc. using copyrighted material. While this in no way harms the author, it’ll be considered infringement all the same.

How about blogs? Nearly all of us bloggers use imagery from movies/games/album covers/etc. copyrighted material. In many cases we help sell the product with our reviews, but to hell with that because it’s copyright infringement.

Okay, so that’s just the beginning.  Let’s take this a step further. Suppose I’m some big media company like Uni****** and I see a review about my latest release on a blog and the review exposes my release for the recycled piece of crap it is. Well as long as that poor blogger used some images from that film, I can take him down for copyright infringement. Heh, what freedom of speech?

Now here’s where it gets scary. As we all know, corruption is the currency of the world. Suppose a website exposes a corrupt politician or publishes something really inflamatory against the powers that be. Well because the government own the justice system, it’s easy to get a friendly judge to sign the right papers and have that site blocked on a false charge. How would anyone in the US be able to prove it was a false charge? Its not like anyone could access the site. We’ll have a situation where the authorities control the information flow again. That’s ALWAYS bad.

So now we’ve looked at what this bill could do, let’s look at the things it CAN’T do. It can’t stop piracy. It can’t even stop online piracy. Why? Because “people who break the law” break the law. In other words, they’ll just go further underground. Back in the 1970s, there were people with stacks of twelve or more cassette recorders and wires everywhere making copies of original cassette tapes and LPs.

Even if the internet became completely controlled, people would find their own ways of distribution through closed wireless networks. And if the authorities found a way to monitor every wireless signal in the world, people would resort to the old-fashioned method of hand-to-hand. If anything this would hurt copyright holders more because, if you were around in those days, pirated things cost you money, just not half as much as the originals.

Now loads of people actually buy the original if they enjoyed the pirated version (I call it “try and buy”). But how many people would stop doing this if the pirate cost them money? They’d still opt for the cheaper version, however they’d likely not want to fork out more money for the original. Well done.

So let’s talk distribution. Piracy has actually helped a lot of artists reach out to new fans through the internet. Most of the CDs in my cupboard were ordered because I heard pirated mp3s of the band. Without the internet, I would never have known they existed because they don’t play non-“popular” music on the radio. Shoot yourselves in the foot.

So if this bill isn’t going to stop piracy, why push so hard for it to be passed? Wake up people! Before the internet became a part of the average household, the authorities controlled communications. Newspapers, magazines, television and radio could be censored. Now and then a brave journalist would risk life and limb to expose the truth against all odds, but generally the inconvenient truths were kept under lock and key.

To top it all off, this control over free-speech would effectively give authorities the power to implement, or should I say re-implement, social engineering. After decades of failure (since their strength began to crumble in the 1960s), the powers that be went so far as to try and use the internet at first. But it was simply too vast and there were too many voices to be heard, many enlightening people and exposing them to the concept of free thinking. There is nothing an authority fears more than uncontrollable information flow.

So maybe you think I’m a conspiracy theorist and maybe you’re right. But you cannot deny that this bill infringes on the right to free speech and that, no matter that some people are abusing that right, the cons of this law outweigh the pros (Oh wait, there aren’t any pros because piracy existed before the internet and will continue to do so long after the internet).

This blog has a small outreach and few regular visitors but I’d like to make the most of the readers I have. So guys and girls, spread the word of this evil act. Don’t sit there and think that just because it’s not happening in your country that it won’t hurt you. If America does it, the world will soon follow. This is everyone’s battle and for once, ALL OF US must unite. I’m calling on everyone from the hacker community to the chat room addicts to the bloggers to the online gamers to the damn old ladies who stumbled on this article looking for the results of the Swedish kitten pageant: Spread the word and the cause on every form of communication you have and, IF THIS BILL GETS PASSED, LET’S MAKE SOME NOISE!!!

One thought on “The Biggest Form Of Free Speech Is Under Threat Thanks To SOPA

  1. Bradley

    “To the United States government, you should have expected us…”

    Couldn’t agree with you more, a well written article revealing the truths of the atrocity that is SOPA. SOPA infringes on one of the most basic of human rights – freedom of speech and as a blogger and frequent user of the net, this ‘stop online piracy act’ mirrors the socialist mindset that the United States are supposedly so against. It’s not only the private user who is against SOPA, Epic Games for example, have said that while they support efforts that would stop overseas websites profiting from pirating their games, it has to be in a way that’s compatible with freedom of speech and due process of law and not only that, heavy hitters like Google, Youtube and Facebook have threatened a temporary blackout (going offline) as a taste of what could be (how fucked we’d be) in response to SOPA.

    “Companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, Yahoo! and Wikipedia are said to be discussing a coordinated blackout of services to demonstrate the potential effect SOPA would have on the Internet, something already being called a “nuclear option” of protesting. The rumors surrounding the potential blackout were only strengthened by Markham Erickson, executive director of trade association NetCoalition, who told FoxNews that “a number of companies have had discussions about [blacking out services]” last week.” – http://techland.time.com/2012/01/05/sopa-what-if-google-facebook-and-twitter-went-offline-in-protest/

    I for one will be spreading the word about SOPA in order to illuminate the public about this affront to freedom, it’s like South Africa’s Secrecy bill – just another way to protect the government and fuck over the average person. Where’s Captain America when you need him eh…?

    Reply

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