Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wikipedia is going dark to protest SOPA. So Did I.

Why am I against SOPA?

A South Korean parallel: South Korea has laws protecting the nation from North Korean spies, that were written in the Cold War (that is: harsh and a little reactionary, because that was the political climate at the time). Problem is, now that South Korea’s a democracy, those laws still haven’t been updated to account for the fact South Koreans have way more freedoms now than they did in the ‘70s, when thousands of journalists and critics of the government were arrested and/or had their reputations or careers ruined.

And the reason it makes me nervous to come across laws that cast such a wide net is this:

First: It’s impossible to monitor ALL online activity that might be North Korea friendly/threatening to the stability of the South Korean government. In the same way, it's impossible to block ALL content that might be pirated.

Next: If we can’t monitor ALL activity, we must ask by what principle people decide who to monitor, and who to ignore: when to exercise the law and bring someone in for interrogation, and when to let it slide. When to move to shut down or block their website, and when to let it slide.

But: All too often, the way decisions are made on who to scrutinize, aren’t so much on who’s actually most North Korea friendly, but who’s pissed off the government currently in power the most -- simply because they're the ones who got the government's attention 

So: The law amounts to free license for people with power to hound those who piss them off, by pulling on a pretty-much unrelated hook that almost EVERYBODY has in their cheek, which will, regardless that it’s not really connected to the offense they committed, still put them in a really bad position. If we make farting illegal, then I have a blank slate to accuse anyone I dislike of farting and thus get them out of my hair on a 

There’s just too much danger of selective application of this law to become a lever that the moneyed businesses in power use to bully the little guy, and control what the little guy sees and reads. When this guy's podcast got too popular, there was a convenient way available to shut him up without having to look at the legality of prosecuting him over his podcast. And they did it.

3. The people trying to protect copyright online are fighting a losing battle, and whether this law gets passed or not, will find themselves needing to find a new revenue stream anyway. Even the SOPA will only delay the inevitable, which is this: record companies become irrelevant, because technology's reached a point where anybody can cut an album with some instruments and a computer, and digitally distribute it and become famous in their musical genre, if they're good. And it's good for music that it's so easy to make music.

Here are the two best posts I've found explaining SOPA. Go read them. If you're an American, write your local congressperson. Do it.

The video at the beginning of this post is a great explanation of why EVERYBODY (not just Americans) should care about this:


wetcasements said...

Well said, but there's an even simpler reason to oppose SOPA -- follow the money.

This bill was basically written by Hollywood lobbyists.

And speaking as a registered Democrat, I'm ashamed that so many on my side of the aisle have dropped trou for the MPAA due to all the donations they've received.

Also, if people are pirating your work it isn't the internet's fault, let alone the government's responsibility to _ruin the freaking internet_ in order for you to rake in more millions of dollars in profit.

Grr. Politics. Stupid politicians. Stupid American politicians.

Roboseyo said...

so... the protest seems to have swung the vote on the SOPA bill.

which is good, until next time.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"