A couple of (particularly) scary laws have been introduced in Congress that will affect all of us. The one in the House of Representatives is called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA); the one in the Senate is called Protect IP Act (PIPA). Both are ostensibly designed to help copyright holders like musicians and filmmakers from being ripped off, but in fact they are far more likely to enable corporations and the U.S. government to censor websites they don’t like.
I’ve heard rumblings about all this but I have to admit I never really understood what was at stake until I heard about tomorrow’s internet strike and started reading up on what’s behind it.
Here’s a video explaining PIPA:
My pal Pamela of Something Wagging This Way Comes, who urged several of us to take part, explained it to me in terms that are easy to understand. I posted a video in my Pet Adoption Videos that Don’t Make Me Want to Kill Myself series with Abba music in it. The video was pulled because the shelter didn’t have permission to use the song. Ok. But the new law, if passed as written, would allow Abba’s publishers to sue You Tube for hosting the video to begin with and could shut down my blog for reposting it.
Like I said, scary.
Here are just a few of the participants in tomorrow’s strike:
The Stop American Censorship site is an excellent source of information about all the issues involved, providing a series of actions you can take. It also provides the code that you can use to black out your site tomorrow. I tried it. It’s very cool.
Take a break from blogging. Speak out against censorship. Be cool.
What’s not to like?
9 thoughts on “Join the Internet Strike on 1/18 to Prevent Scary Web-Censoring Laws from Being Passed”
I wonder how these laws will affect people from other countries. If I posted that video, could they come after me in Canada?
As a writer, I fully support copyright laws, but there are such things as fair use and there’s also common sense. The five billion people using the Internet aren’t going to do due diligence when posting something they found on YouTube. Also, there should be some sort of damages or loss proven before one can litigate. Yes, on the face of it, you can’t use ABBA’s song without permission. Never mind illegal, it’s rude. But ultimately, what did ABBA lose? How were they damaged? The shelter didn’t make money off the song and rob them of royalties; they used it to the benefit of homeless animals. The animals “profited,” not people.
And, on the other hand, suppose someone co-opted an ABBA song to promote an Aryan Nations site (after all, what’s more Aryan than a Swedish pop group)? That doesn’t lead to fiscal/monetary damages, but it would sure damage their reputation, and by all means ABBA should have the right to have their music disassociated from something like that. So So how do they craft legislation where someone like you, doing something innocent and benevolent, doesn’t suffer, but more opportunistic or immoral people do? And what if ABBA hates animals and doesn’t want a human society using their song? I can see a cease and desist aimed at them, but it’s really not right that you could come under fire too. And the penalty has to be in line with the damage/loss caused.
This is why I never became a lawyer.
Yeah, as someone who got a book ripped off on the Internet, I’m a big proponent of copyright lawas. But, as you’ve just pointed out, those issues are complex. If YouTube quickly takes a video down when a copyright infringement has been pointed out, why should they also be financially liable?
Disney and the Elvis estate have been extremely successful when it comes to copyright infringement. Napster was taken down. These companies can take care of themselves. They don’t need draconian new laws to protect them.
Are you sure you’re not a lawyer? 🙂
And yes, you’ve certainly hit the biggest problems with such far reaching legislation.
Thanks for your eloquent and concise post, Edie.
I agree that artists deserve to control their intellectual property. But this law will not benefit people who create content, just the corporations who own it.
Besides, as Radiohead, Louis C.K. and Leo Babauta have discovered, an artist can earn more by subverting traditional forms of commerce than by giving a huge cut to the corporation who “owns” them.
My understanding is that this law will change the way I.P. addresses are assigned and managed. Which means that the U.S. government is looking to legislate something that affects the entire world. (I’m not surprised, just appalled.)
I hope SOPA and PIPA die fast deaths. But I’m worried that after the initial strike and publicity an innocuous bill will be attached to a funding bill passing it anyway.
Thank you for inspiring it. I don’t know why, but I am oddly optimistic about the power of social media in this case. On the other hand, I couldn’t believe that Citizens United could pass the Supreme Court…
This is a very frightening development, especially if it has ramfications in other countries. As far as these things go, I am actually pleased with Canada’s treatment of such laws in regards to censorship and privacy. But the internet isn’t that simple. Just who governs it all anyway? The US government clearly thinks it does.
I am wondering now if it wouldn’t be smarter to switch to a Canadian webhost. It probably wouldn’t protect me when it comes to Corporate America, but it might be just a wee bit safer. Or maybe I am just fooling myself.
Great post, Edie. These laws are truly scary. The chilling effect far outweighs any claimed benefits.