Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Before It's Too Late...

I'm a small-time blogger from Canada, but I get enough pageviews from the USA that I believe that it's worth saying something about two dangerous and unnecessary pieces of legislation in the USA that can, and will, affect more than just citizens the United States should they pass.  Because I'm not a U.S. citizen, and I don't live within the borders of the USA even if I'm a very near neighbour, I can't really do much about them, but if you're American, you have a voice in this matter and you can do something to stop these bills before they become law.

I'm referring, of course, to the misleadingly-named Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

Opposing these proposed laws doesn't mean that you're a pirate, or even that you sympathize with them.  Under U.S. copyright law, corporations already have a number of different ways in which they can fight piracy (which, by the way, doesn't lead to nearly as much lost income as the MPAA and RIAA would like us to believe).

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act has already been used and abused many times to censor opinions and remove legitimate usage of copyrighted content (Fair Use) from sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.  It's even been used to silence criticism of doctors whose patients have had bad experiences with them.  The powers that would be granted by SOPA and PIPA go far beyond the very considerable ones that already exist under the DMCA; among other things, corporations like Universal (which, um, already has a pretty bad track record of abusing the DMCA, even using it to block videos that don't actually contain any content that Universal owns) the power to have any website on the internet blocked or taken down even just for containing a link to copyrighted content that wasn't posted by the site's owners.  Imagine the impact that this would have on the internet, not just in the USA, but for the world.  If SOPA and PIPA had existed years ago, there would be no Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.  News reporting would look very different.  I doubt that even blogging would be the same; who would, who could, say anything when even the slightest hint of the use of someone else's intellectual property could get their blog, or their whole website, censored?

Intellectual property is already very well-protected, even at the cost of free speech, as it is.  Piracy is a minimal threat to profits.  These pieces of legislation are unnecessary and hand over far too much control of the internet to media companies who feel that they have a vested interest in breaking the internet because they think they can make more money that way.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Stop SOPA and PIPA...before it's too late.

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