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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) Is Shortsighted - Will Hurt More Than Help

SOPA Will Not Kill Online Piracy
As is often the case, legislators jump into creating new laws (often with the noblest intentions) to correct inequities but write the legislation in such a way that the intended outcome winds up hurting peripheral entities more than the focused inequity correction is worth! And we end up with extremely bad legislation with unintended consequences that far outweigh any perceived benefits.

Could be our elected officials need to hire professional writers to spell out the legislation. You see, good writers are good thinkers/visionaries who can connect the 3-dimensional dots, 100% of the time, much better than the legislative bunch in D.C. today :)

Case in point: Jennifer Grassman, a musician, writer, journalist, and creative person nailed the SOPA weaknesses in an article for the Washington Times:

Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA): Will censoring the web stop online piracy?

As a musician, writer, journalist, and creative person, the title of the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) has a distinctly pleasant ring to it. Equally innocuous sounding, PIPA stands for “Protect IP Act.”

But what, may one ask, is in a name? If the spider that lives on the back porch was named Fluffy, would it make her less menacing.
Most people do not have time to read the actual legislation (which, between the two bills, is a scintillating 108-page read), let alone the know-how to decode all the legal jargon. As a result, the dramatic and often contradictory claims of the bill's proponents and opponents become all the more difficult to sort.

Some claim SOPA will protect the rights and property of content creators. Others seem to think it will usher in a 1984-esk dark age of book burnings and fascist government censorship.

With melodramatic flare, on Wednesday, January 18, Wikipedia went black in protest of SOPA and PIPA, stating, “Imagine a world without free knowledge. For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet.”

Will SOPA restrict sites like Wikipedia with its crowd-sourced information gathering dynamism? Is America actually entering 1984 à la George Orwell?

Or will SOPA simply cut the lifeline on pirate websites that are explicitly engaged in criminal activity, i.e. theft or my, and your intellectual property?

CNN Money explains, “SOPA's main targets are 'rogue' overseas sites like torrent hub The Pirate Bay, which are a trove for illegal downloads of movies and other digital content. If you remember Napster you know that content creators have battled against piracy for years, learning that it is nearly impossible to take action against foreign sites. So SOPA's goal is to cut off pirate sites' oxygen by requiring U.S. search engines, advertising networks, and other providers to withhold their services. That means sites like Google would not show flagged sites in their search results, and payment processors like eBay's PayPal could not transmit funds to them.”

In other words, the U.S. Government wants to lay siege to online foreign smuggling enterprises. It's not their intentions many question, but rather their proposed methods.

We all have friends or relatives who illegally download music, movies, video games, and computer programs. Some of them know they are stealing and think it is funny. Others seem to have a romanticized idea of the underdog valiance of piracy, as if they are trotting through Sherwood Forest with Robin Hood and his Merry-file-sharing-Men.

Many seem to think that they are entitled to get everything they want for free, while still others are under the misapprehension that digital products (like MP3s and downloadable software) cost the creator nothing to make, and therefor ought to be free for everyone to enjoy, just like sunshine, sidewalks, and junk mail.

One Facebook user posted the comment, “This is about freedom and knowledge. Ever heard [sic] about how 'Knowledge should be free?' it is because it belongs to the world. SOPA is the typical Republican crap, and I think they are 100% wrong. So only rich people should be allow to watch HBO and get Adobe Acrobat? No way man! That cripples the knowledge. Should I be limited because I do not have money to pay for a class, or software, or books? [Instead], I can 'tweak it' and learn it by myself for free because I skipped their steps, and was smart enough not to get trapped in their BS. I'm the 1% bro, but I'm savvy enough to get the stuff the 99% enjoys because of my knowledge.”

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