Understanding the Dangers of Protect-IP, SOPA & the Jan 18 Internet Blackout

17 Jan

These are two bills that if you aren’t familiar with now, you need to be. I’ve been remiss in commenting online about them but I’ve spent the last couple months writing letters & making calls to my senators and representatives. Trust me, these laws are not in anyone’s best interests.

Supposedly designed to stop piracy, piracy will still be able to happen. What these laws will threaten is social media in every form. Do you like making fan videos about a favorite TV couple and putting it to music? That can land you 5 years in prison. Or maybe you didn’t make the video, you just tweeted the link because you liked it. That’s still 5 years in jail. Plus twitter can be sued for allowing you to tweet the link in the first place, while youtube is sued for posting it.
Since these sites are unlikely to waste time and money censoring every user (it’s just not feasible) they will likely be shut down. Believe me, the internet as you know it will change.

There are arguments that say the government won’t abuse these laws and that they are only designed to stop true piracy. But there are laws in place to do that anyway and those laws are being abused. There are far too many stories of people who are arrested because an apartment neighbor used their internet to download illegally. Should the original person have protected their internet? Yes, but they also don’t deserve heavy fines or several years in jail for a mistake they were truly ignorant of. And often these people who are prosecuted are older and unfamiliar with the way the internet works. This is ridiculous.

This video does an excellent job of explaining the problem in more detail:

Believe me, more than you realize will change if this law passes. The internet (or at least many members and sites) are going on strike in protest of the bill on January 18th. You can learn more and join the strike by following the links below.

Let’s be clear, I’m not in any way advocating piracy, or saying that authors, producers, and others who create media shouldn’t be protected. They should be. I absolutely encourage everyone to legally purchase media, particularly books. Authors don’t make nearly as much as you might like to think. And these days, there are many legitimate and less expensive ways to watch your favorite shows. You might have to wait an extra day or two but when the choice is a day of patience or 3 years in jail, I’ll wait a day. Piracy is not a good thing. Have I been guilty in the past? Yes. I’m not going to take some high and mighty road here. But I am trying. Between netflix, hulu+ and various websites, it is next to impossible to miss out on an episode of my favorite shows and I’m spending less than $20 a month to get that access. Which makes it easy for me to justify the cost of the 1 or 2 shows that aren’t available. Thanks to the rise in ebook publishing, reading a favorite author’s book has become that much easier. And if you aren’t aware, both the Kindle & Nook have borrowing capabilities via libraries and other users. You can borrow an ebook from a friend and read it before choosing to purchase it yourself. Over the last few months, I’ve taken the time to research all the options available to myself (and others) and I am proud to say that it has been several months since I last downloaded anything. Progress counts, right? For that matter, take the time to go visit your local library. You might be surprised at the growth in the media section and they can use your support. Piracy has no place on your list of accessible media options.

The real problem seems to be in movies, which to me suggests that the major studios need to do some rethinking about how they make movies accessible to audiences. Theaters are becoming so expensive that more moviegoers are choosing to limit the number of movies they watch, wait until it goes to a dollar theater, or skip it altogether. TV networks and studios began realizing that there are too many shows for one person to watch in a single night and have been offering alternative viewing choices. Movie studios need to consider the same.

And if the current piracy laws aren’t doing their job, let’s rethink the problem. Outlawing everything is not the answer and will have a ripple effect that reaches much farther than most realize. If new laws and better protection need to be drafted, then it needs to come from discernment. Someone posting the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries online to be downloaded? Big problem. Someone downloading it? Problem but they aren’t the source. The consequences should not be the same. Fansite posting pictures from an episode? That’s promoting the episode and encouraging further involvement in the show. Fansites using sites like shareapic to post the pictures? That’s trying to make money off a copyrighted item and perhaps deserves more consideration. A 16 year old making a video of Matt & Caroline, set to a Demi Lovato song is someone expressing their love for a couple and artist. Sorry folks but that’s not the kind of piracy we need to be fighting. The problem needs to be resolved, or at least resolved better than the current situation but discernment is a must. Discernment in our lawmakers, discernment in the creators of media, and discernment on the part of consumers.

If you prefer to read the bill in its entirety, you can do so here.

You can get your website in on the blackout/strike planned for January 18th (tomorrow) by going here.

To petition your senators go here.

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Posted by on January 17, 2012 in Pull Out the Soapbox


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