Yesterday some websites blackout for 24 hours in protest of SOPA (the “Stop Online Piracy Act”) and PIPA (the “Protect Intellectual Property Act” ) and I (proudly) joined in the protesting against these bills.
If you don’t know about the blackout, or about these bills I suggest you read wikimedia’s explaination – it’s by far the simplest explanation around but if even that’s looking a bit daunting for you don’t worry – I’ll have a few key points in this post.
Let’s get this straight from the start, I’m not against copyright or protecting ones intellectual property – I write, I’m a photographer and as well as any money that maybe lost with someone taking your work – you feel morally wronged.
The internet has been a great help in getting ones work out there – to be seen, to be enjoyed – but of course people do steal your work. So far, this hasn’t happened to me (to my knowledge) but it is a danger when sharing anything on the internet.
I have photos from gigs (of the bands) I’ve been to with friends – they’re among my best – but I know if I shared them on the internet, potentially they would get stolen by some fan – but on a fansite, used on facebook or whatever. Thus, I never shared them on the internet – my friends got a copy on the understanding they wouldn’t share them and that’s it.
But this solution won’t work for the music and movie industry – the big companies who are the ones that are really pushing for this bill. They tried that before – stuck to CD’s whilst the consumer was way ahead – turning them into MP3’s. It didn’t work. So now they’re panicking, playing catchup.
Artists and songwriters absolutely should be paid and acknowledged for their work – but the industry needs to give people want they want – portable music. With legally downloaded MP3’s only being able to be copied to 2 or 3 devices/hard drives – it’s not practical. You’ve already used one of those downloading it to your computer. If you want to make a back up – that’s 2.
And so it’s proposed in these bills that any illegal shared copyrighted material will be blocked by your internet service provider in accordance with this law.
The problem? The law allows for entire sites to be blocked upon only suspicion of hosting or being involved with the sharing of copyrighted materials.
The amount of people that upload a profile photo of their favourite movie star, Disney character or music artist to their facebook account must be extortionate – of course this does go against facebooks terms and conditions and they already do remove as much of this content as humanly possible. But this law could see facebook blocked to people living in the US.
A site can even get the same treatment if it habours a link to a site, which hosts copyrighted files.
The same goes for wikipedia, youtube, twitter and google (yes google, not all of those sites, photos it pulls up are being used legally!).
Of course they push the responsibly of policing the site – to the company who owns the site. This will force a huge cost on many companies – who may not be able to afford it.
Yes, it could be that extreme. Yet – it won’t work. The sites will be blocked based on their IP address – which can be easily changed by the people running the site. What are they going to do? Play IP address cat and mouse?
More experienced users will also know how to get around the block – but if this information is shared on a website guess what? SOPA AND PIPA will block that site too.
Plus, may I point out this is not stopping any sharing of copyrighted material, it’s simply putting an obstacle in the way of people downloading it – so it’s completely off the mark on it’s actual aim in the first place.
The only thing this bill is stamping out is peoples freedom, not copyright issues.
I don’t live in the US – but if you don’t either. Understand that this bill may set the stage for your country doing similar. You have to take a stand now.
Please, I urge you to sign this petition run by google. Read up on these two bills. Educate yourself.
I’m for copyright NOT censorship. I’m for freedom NOT limitation.