If You Value Your Internet, Read This… And Raise Holy Hell With Congress

Via Bryan, via Susie Madrak, please note that, as MSNBC’s technology blog reminds us, Congress is verging on action on the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” which might be better named the “criminalize free speech on the Internet act.” Several large companies that field public institutions on the ‘net are contemplating a coordinated shutdown in protest of SOPA, as a reminder to the crazies in Congress these days (yes, Dems as well as GOPers) who irrationally think this draconian law is a good idea, that most of us have no intention of tolerating it. Companies involved in the SOPA protest include (but are not limited to)…

AOL, eBay, Etsy, Facebook, Foursquare, Google, IAC, Linkedin, Mozilla, OpenDNS, PayPal, Twitter, Yahoo!, Zynga.

At present, the likeliest date seems to be Jan. 23rd. Expect to be reminded of what life was like before the Internet and all these services on the Web… and what it could be like again if a few overwhelmingly powerful content providers succeed in imposing the draconian legal restrictions… all without due process of course; that’s the latest thing, after all… on you through your internet service provider. And afterwards, FIGHT LIKE BLOODY HELL to prevent this from happening.

ADDENDUM: Perhaps an example would help you to understand what is at stake. This example is not original with me, but I can’t remember where I read it; if you know, please inform us all:

  1. Suppose, with SOPA in effect, you unthinkingly post to YouTube a short clip from a popular TV show made within the past decade. Never mind whether the clip is short enough to meet fair-use restrictions; media companies probably won’t worry a lot about what your legal rights are. But who is liable, and what action can be taken? Under SOPA, you, your internet service provider, and Google (which fields YouTube) are all liable. Can the owners of the clip take legal action against you? They won’t have to: you are presumptively guilty; the clip will be pulled down. Your ISP may decide you’re not worth the trouble and discontinue your service. Google may find itself forced to discontinue YouTube altogether for lack of profitability.
  2. Now suppose a slightly different scenario: you personally videotape your young daughter jumping around doing cute things on the playground near your home, and post the video on YouTube. Clearly visible on your daughter’s feet is the Nike “swoosh” logo… it’s on the shoes she is wearing. What then? You can still be required by Nike to take down the video, etc., with other consequences as above.
  3. And so on. I’ve read that even LINKS from your blog to content on another site that is not copyright compliant can result in action against you.

Crazy? Yes. The new corporate American reality, if SOPA passes? Probably.

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  • jams o donnell (Shaun Downey)  On Sunday January 8, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    An abslute disgrace These diot congresmen may not intend to destroy free speech but the consequences are that the US will have powers that are beyond the wildest dreams of any three scummy regimes the US (and the West) give lip service protest.

    On a very marginally related note will DVD piracy warning ads really start to look like this I wonder!


    • Steve  On Sunday January 8, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      Shaun, it’s possible they’re proposing a totally nutso bill so that negotiations will begin from a stance close to their own.

      In any case, the bill is all about recent evidence that people here don’t go to movies in theaters anymore. Never mind the obvious cause, that movie tickets in “inexpensive” locations (e.g., Houston) are $10 (that’s ten fucking dollars), before you pay for parking (another couple of bucks) and some popcorn ($5 for a small) and Coke (don’t ask). Hollywood, an industry with a well-established audience, has fucked itself by raising prices to ridiculous levels in economic hard times, and it wonders why viewers watch everything they can on the internet. Fools!

      I don’t pirate. It’s not that I’ve never pirated in the distant past (30 or 40 years ago, when I was young and broke), but that I’ve thought about it, and made a decision not to support the bastards in any way. If I want to watch a movie, there’s a broadcast channel of golden oldies, most in B&W, among the new channels created when the industry forced us all to switch TV technologies. But I don’t pay for tickets to movie theaters (it hurts me too much anyway to climb the stairs and thread through the aisles), and I don’t buy CDs or DVDs, and I don’t subscribe to either flavor of Netflix. With the industry’s attitude, they do not deserve my custom.

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