SOPA/PIPA

Posted: January 16, 2012 in Media, Political, Social Media
Tags: , , , , , , ,

UPDATE:  See Below the Original Post!!

Okay, I am making the most of my federal holiday today and trying to increase my blog production just a little bit while I have the time.  Take care though reader, my intent is still not to provide a half-assed topic that is barely developed, but to provide the mental fodder for personal consideration on topics I see as issue which may affect us, the masses, if we are so blind as to believe what comes out of the mouth of a politician.  I make the disclaimer now that for the following topic I am no where near an expert, but I can read and you should too before either of these bills gets to much further through Congress.

While the true origins of the Internet as we see them today may be obfuscated through the hands of time (we only have Al Gore’s personal testimony to his hand in the development of it), there is no doubt that in some way, shape, or form there was a collaborative effort between U.S. government initiatives and private sector educators, way back in the good old days of the 1970s.  This technology has morphed, thanks in part to the visionary developments and commercial successes of people such as Bill Gates and the late, great Steve Jobs.  The Internet, the vast information superhighway has grown exponentially since the availability of easy to use personal computing devices in the 1990s and the explosion of dotcoms.  Ever since this technological miracle has been made available to the public at large, there have been attempts to regulate the use of it, some successful and needed, e.g. taxes collected by business who have a brick and mortar store in your home are, other of questionable virtue, such as the recent acts proposed in both houses of Congress; the House of Representative’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA).

I am going to break away for a moment from the informative portion of SOPA and PIPA.  I understand what the GOV is trying to do, I just do not agree with the acts as they exist in writing.  I am versed enough to understand the different components, but there is no way that I will be able to adequately present them to you so as to try and persuade you in either direction.  I will include a few links at the end of the post that will provide the bills as they currently sit, waiting to be moved and voted on prior to presentation to the president for signature.  Something BTW, the White House has come out against over the last couple of days.

Okay, my personal take on the Internet and piracy.  When I picture piracy, it generally brings to mind an image of naval warfare between privateers gone awry of the coast of Colonial time America or pursuit of dangerous cut throats through the blue waters of the Caribbean.  In a more modern twist, I see a couple boats of Somalis trying to stop and take over a cargo vessel somewhere off the Horn of Africa or some seedy island hoppers off the southern shores of SouthEast Asia.  Piracy as it is used in these bills is a bit high-handed of a term for what essentially equates to proliferating knock-offs of an electronic version.  Movies, music, e-books, and software are just a few of the items they want to include in the language of the bill.  For those saavy enough, the use of Bit Torrents to trade copies of movies or TV shows from foreign sponsored companies are the distinct target of these two bills.  Not only those who do the trading, but the ISP who provides you the IP address required to transit the internet, the search engine that brings up the link to hook you to the site and all the little fellers in between.

“Piracy” as it is used here is probably an issue.  Intellectual property is what we are talking about here and the theft of it.  I have to tell you though, if I purchase an item legitimately, such as say a book, and I wish to give it to someone else, then there is nothing wrong with it. Same goes for any movie I purchase or music.  How then, if you were to change it from the tangible to electronic version is it okay for the government to try and stop that.  Metallica and NAPSTER be damned, I paid for it, I can give it to whomever I choose.  Knock-offs and the direct undercutting of profit from intellectual property, that is another issue in and of itself, but the regulation of the internet is not the place to start.  There is always contraband and illicit goods to consider and some countries whether you want to believe it or not, make a hefty profit from turning a blind eye to those who want to find a way to copy something and market it.

Regulating of the internet is not the best way to try and cut down on the “piracy” of intellectual property.  This is just another way of trying to enforce laws that already exist, explicitly for the crimes these bills are addressing.  The laws already exist, they may need a little updating, especially since the major law both of these bills quote explicitly is the Lanham Act of 1946, long before the paving of the information superhighway was started.  Spend the effort enforcing the laws as they exist and risk making the international stink that diplomacy will cause and work between the countries involved to resolve these crimes.  If we are truly in a global marketplace then one-sided enforcement is not the answer to the problem.

Links:

PIPA

SOPA

Explanation of both Acts

UPDATE:

Here is a link to Wikipedia’s shutdown in protest of SOPA/PIPA.  The bottom line of the posting, on January 18th you will not be able to view Wikipedia since they will be conducting a blackout in protest of SOPA/PIPA.  The first of the big boys is about to make our lives harder in protest.  How American is that???  Got to love it!!!

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Comments
  1. […] a quick update on yesterdays posting about SOPA/PIPA. It looks as if both the Senate and the House are backing off on how fast they want to try and get […]

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  2. tjmartin66x says:

    I concur. The Internet needs self-regulation not sponsored regulation (cf. http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/01/18/406397/chart-who-is-lobbying-for-and-against-the-protect-ip-act/). The US Chamber of Commerce led the charge. Megaupload’s recent bust is probably the opening campaign for intellectual property lobbyist. Had the large interests invested into friendly DRM, I think the file sharing community would have acted differently; but it’s a bit more complicated: Alkiviades David filed a 2nd lawsuit against CBS & CNET. David claims CBS/NET promoted filing sharing and provided LimeWire. I am a simple ebook author and utilize a flexible DRM (File Secure Pro); if my readers want to share my works, I have the options to protect my investment and blend into the “open source” sentiments of the Internet. SOPA and PIPA are just do overs of the cassette tape/VHS lobby. Clay Shirky spelled it out nicely: if you only had 2 competitors, e.g., ABC, CBS vs NBC, scarcity created a nice gravy train…. the Internet scares the hell out of the media companies. People like to create and share.

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    • As demonstrated the day after they took the acts off of the table, there is no need for a comprehensive set of laws that in trying to correct one problem will make many, many more. Congress was responding to the “pirated” lobby (Hollywood, music industry, etc.) instead of looking at it as a technical matter. By trying to go after the providers they would be cutting off the globalization that the current administration has been pimping. By going directly after Megaupload, or at least the specific people behind the company, they proved they have the authority to do so and to add additional regulation was not necessary.

      I work in communications in the military, I have a firm understanding of networking from the theoretical side, but looking at the attempts by Congress, I could tell it was written with punitive action in mind much like prohibition was in the 20th century; we all know how that worked out. For me what it comes down to is, if I have purchased it, it is mine to do with as I want. if I choose to share it with someone that should be my prerogative, if I build a site to allow others to, in large numbers, to be able to take advantage of my inclination then I have crossed a line. The internet has become everyone’s, not to do evil with but to better themselves and the world.

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