In yet another attempt to ‘ensure our liberties’, congress is currently debating Stop Online Piracy Act – aka SOPA. The very fact that their current laws are unenforceable due to a lack of personnel and funding, congress apparently feels that more laws are the answer…again. In their twisted heads, they seem to believe that by denying a dns (domain name service) entry onto the web via its ISP (Internet Service Provider), they can somehow save money. Just a few minor holes into this thing that I would like to shoot down right now.
1 – Smaller ISP’s are to be more impacted by this than the larger ones – small wonder as to why the big dogs in the major Companies support this nonsense (for a list of supporting companies, go to http://judiciary.house.gov/issues/Rogue%20Websites/List%20of%20SOPA%20Supporters.pdf ). Smaller companies cannot afford the manpower or equipment needed to easily comply with this law whereas larger ones can do so without so much as batting an eyebrow – so once again, a crony capitalism move of massive proportions.
2 – This bill escalates the drug wars into the cyberworld. By running down users, sellers, and distributors of both prescription and illegal drugs, it imposes stiff fines as well as the immediate shut down of their service. Drug wars do not work in real life – what on earth makes them think it will magically work in cyberspace? Thanks to the DHS monitoring social websites etc, this will grant both the DHS, and the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (a position created by this bill) more power than they could ever have had before.
3 – The Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator reports to congress the effectiveness of this program. When in history has any government agency/ program director ever admitted to being ineffective, immoral, or cost efficient when their jobs depend on their findings supporting the legislative purpose that created them? Never.
4 – Like the DHS under Janet Napolitano, this new initiative under the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator can enact a whole new series of enforcement laws and techniques, and never once have to answer for them to congress save for the annual report.
5 – Only about 40% of this bill has anything to do with directly internet related operations. The rest of it has to do with defining infringment on intellectual property, and the consequences involved. In short, this is a bill that not only adds a host of new regulations, but makes many older ones that much more stringent.
6 – Under Title 2 of this bill some interesting wording is used. It goes on to define things like economic espionage, trafficking of inherently dangerous goods and services, and the dispersing of trade secrets as dire infringements on intellectual property that carry stiff punishment. Each of these are only loosely defined and are subject to a broad interpretive scope.
7 – Also under title two in section 202 paragraph 3, it covers military goods and services. All this section is meant to do it to ensure that soldiers only have access to government approved field gear when purchased online. As someone who was in the army for 10 years, I find this insulting to say the least. A good portion of the gear me and my buddies would buy was the stuff that was not official but worked much better for cheaper.
8 – Of the 40% of the bill that does have to do with the internet, it makes its biggest case for motion picture related things. Given that nearly every big shot in Hollywood is supporting this, this is self explanatory. However for those of you who don’t get it, it is merely just another case of the rich using the law to keep themselves rich.
9 – Anyone who even has a link on their page to a government deemed infringement on someone else’s intellectual material, has 5 days to remove it or be removed themselves. So the truth is that you will not wake up one day to see youtube or wikipedia shut down. You will just go on living knowing that you are only seeing the side of the story that those who produced it want you to see. In short, it is censorship to an extreme degree, and because of the 5 day grace period, it will seem almost non-existent to most. Lastly, it means that you will never be able to see anything in a different light than what the producers of it and the government wants you to see.
10 – Big internet companies are pushing this bill because it will free up a lot of bandwidth. A lot of people use the internet to repost certain sections of a program or music video on youtube and through file sharing, and this eats bandwidth. By not allowing such reposts and sectioned off material, the companies will be able to reclaim the lost bandwidth. A major problem with this is that we live in a soundbite era where noone wants to watch a several hour long peice to learn something or be entertained, and in the end, this measure will backfire on the ISP’s – and deservedly so. They offer their service as an internet provider, and should not be trying to dictate how their users use the service to make a profit.
11 – The government itself will not be the one initiating the action to prevent these ‘infringments’ unless they are on copywrited material, patents, or registered trademarks. This means that aside from music, movies, photographs etc, artists themselves now have a new ability to prosecute someone appreciating their work who could not afford to purchase it. This is of course counterproductive and foolish, but I have come to realize that many in the entertainment industry on that high level do not have the intellectual capacity to grasp that concept. Yet the best part is that they are seeking to enforce this in other countries which leads me to number
12 – It is bad enough many other countries already face censorship and isolation from freedom. Now they have another US politician working in the embassy seeing to it that the host nation is not using the internet to ‘steal America’s intellectual output’…gag.
A quick reminder that America is so broke on every level that it cannot maintain the way of life it has today. Now congress yet again seeks to add even more to this burden. They are going to censor your input on someone else’s ‘intellectual property’ should that person deem your view to be wrong, and use your money to do so.
In closing, I will simply say that if what you produce is not something that people feel like paying for, then maybe you’re not as good as you think you are. You should own up to that before you ask the government to ensure that people pay you what you THINK you are worth. However in the end I will get the last laugh should this bill pass as they fall into poverty as they find that their output was not worth the tens of millions they make each year.
To read this bill for yourself, and find out who is supporting it, you can go to the following links:
PS – Wall ST journal guys need to work on their investigative skills a little more – half of this was never mentioned in their article – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203735304577167261853938938.html?mod=googlenews_wsj