Friday, January 13, 2012

Lemming Tracks: SOPA, Censorship, and 'Protection'

SOPA is - we're told - supposed to protect Hollywood and the American record industry from pirates.

That's not the problem. Copyright and other intellectual property rights are important, and should have legal protection.

But SOPA, as originally set up, would allow some Federal official to blacklist websites. But that's okay? After all, only 'pirate' websites will be affected. And, presumably, since they're 'pirates,' there's no need for a trial: according to SOPA.

Let's imagine a hypothetical situation.

'It Can't Happen Here?'

Let's say there's this website, run by someone who isn't sufficiently grateful about being protected from pirates. One of the pages on this website includes that quote from "Star Wars," "I've got a bad feeling about this." Complete with a sound clip from the 1977 movie.

That, according to some Washington bureaucrat, is 'piracy.'

And so the troublesome website disappears.

Without a trial.

After all, SOPA protects Hollywood against 'pirates,' and their kind doesn't deserve a trial, right?

Or, maybe not-so-right.

Quite a few folks have been raising a fuss about SOPA: including a sort of protest shutdown on Wednesday of next week, January 18.Now we're told that SOPA is going to be cleaned up a little before getting imposed on us. That's nice to hear. Maybe it's even true.

Protected from 'Pirates' - And Disturbing Ideas?

Maybe the most disturbing part of SOPA is that a member of Congress apparently decided that websites should be suppressed - without a trial - based on whether or not some government official thought they had the 'wrong' sort of content.

Protecting folks who produce content is a good idea. That was the idea behind "residuals:" allowing someone besides studio heads from profiting from a movie that continues to make money. And yes: there's more to residuals than that:But 'protecting' the world, by taking 'bad' websites off the Internet? Based on what some government official wants? With no trial?

Even if whoever is pushing SOPA 'means well,' this is a very bad idea.

On the other hand, it could be worse. The Egyptian government shut down the Internet in their country a year ago. Egypt has a new government now, by the way.

'It can't happen here?' Well, maybe. But folks with power have been known to react badly when they think they're not being properly appreciated:Just a reminder: America has a national election coming up this November. Maybe it's time to swap out the current lot with politicos who understand today's technology: and who value freedom of expression.

Other related posts:


Brigid said...

Are you sure this is how you intended the sentence to read? "allowing someone besides studio heads from profiting"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


I think I've fixed it now. Thanks!

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