Why SOPA / PIPA matters to us all

5 minute read

Ever since the age of the cassette tape the media industries across the globe have been “lobbying” and “contributing” to our politics in a way many of us do not even understand. We pretty much live in a world now where where just about all levels of government are enabled not by the people, but by corporations and PIPA and SOPA are just another two examples of how industries will stop at nothing to have control over what we can consume, when we can consume it and in what manner it is consumed!

Citizen politics these days are divided by extremes, almost entirely divided by motives and ideologies and not by critical self thinking of the the real issues that we face. One of the main drivers for my thinking on politics is to do this, I do not listen to politicians for advice or positions, nor do I listen solely to so called experts. I actually do a little thinking for myself, I completely distrust my motives for automatically taking one side, which is so easy to do. Things that matter to me, I research on my own.

We are lucky in this case that we have people that do this for us, a couple of bills that were just rejected by Congress in the US, will be back again very soon, for 20 years the media industries have been trying to these jam bills through levels of governments that will have a global effect and they will try again next year. I have attached a video from a TED talk on this issue, watch it and learn a little about it’s history and the effect these types of laws can have on our everyday life.

One of the more pathetic things about politics these days (believe me, there is a list) are bills that are introduced with brand names that have no recognition to the poisoned pills that are contained within. One such set is trying to get through Congress in the USA is SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act). On the surface with these brand names seem to be doing the right thing, but anyone who has read such bills (I actually took the time to read the presented version) know that these are poisonous to our online culture.

So who is behind this act? Well again, it’s the usual suspects, the same industry groups that wanted to place a levy every blank CD and DVD in the past decade, the same groups that wanted to make all copying of cassette tapes illegal in the 80’s and 90’s and the same ones that wanted to place limits on photo copying machines in the 70’s. By their reasoning everyone should pay for the acts of the few, citizens should be guilty until proven they are innocent.

As demonstrated in the past week, when people actually pirate and distribute copyright materials we already have laws that deal with these things and eventually many do get caught. There is a process of law that takes place for doing something illegal, that is evidence is gathered, charges are laid and then a trial takes place. This bill wants to reverse this process!

If you look at the Internet today, citizens across the globe are the ones that actually create the content. Large media companies account for far less than 1% of actual content on the Internet, it is we who create the majority of content, we mix the content, we share the content and in some cases media companies want this content we create. Media companies are shrinking by content produced, they employ less reporters, they employ more marketing and sales executives and they all encourage us to send them the ‘their’ news. The Arab Spring wasn’t brought to the globes attention by media companies, it was primarily produced and shared by citizens and the media companies lapped this content up and reproduced it as their own.

Fortunately we had some big guns in our corner, but for the most part only because they had a dog in the fight. Google, Wikipedia, Reddit and other online tech giants all made a big play to stop the bill, mainly because it will require them to pass on personal information to these private companies without recourse and will also require them to add DNS filtering to every user at a significant cost to them.

These media groups should have to go through the same law enforcement challenges citizens face when our home is burgled and our belongings stolen, they should not have laws passed that give them the gavel. My suggestion for them is to shut the hell up and accept it is a part of life and work out ways to profit from this! Of couse they will not do this, they will just massage the current bill, until they can get one that passes, and hopefully we will be ready to reject the next version as we were for this!

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  • Nick
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:22 am 0Likes

    The hilarious thing is the US government sponsors software called Tor for people in countries with repressive regimes can surf the internet freely.

    If these laws get passed, then the US would fall under the ‘repressive regime’ category and anyone could easily use Tor to get around it. It kind of undoes all the speeches Hillary Clinton has made about the importance of having a free and open internet.

    • Peter Ricci
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:42 am 0Likes

      Nick, the list goes on and on, politicians are in the pockets of corporations on both sides, they need them to get elected.

  • Craig
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:52 am 0Likes

    The real issue here is how happy are we with corporations driving political agenda. In the US they are so far down that track that politicians are often not much more than paid employees of major corps. Chris Dodd, a former congressman who now works for MPAA (how did he get that job), basically told the people is Washington to start toeing the company line or feel the repercussions.


    While not yet so bad in Australia we have seen good examples recently of Clubs and Mining corporation applying major influence. Do we really think these companies are looking after us? Should politicians do what is right for the people even if the corps don’t like it?

    • Peter Ricci
      Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:41 am 0Likes

      Craig, the problem is people do not think for themselves, most people on the conservative side watch Fox news and listen to conservative radio and repeat what is told to them, most people on the left do likewise with other networks. The mining tax was the perfect example of this, corporations with huge money can wield all the power they want – if people do not think for themselves and distrust their own motives. If you cant do this , you are easy prey!

  • vic Del Vecchio
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:38 am 0Likes

    I was fortunate enough to watch Imran Kahn, the most popular politician in Pakistan, interviewed this morning. He adamantly declared that the problem in Pakistan at the moment is the corruption amongst politicians. I immediately thought he was talking about US politicians.

    He believes that the judiciary in his country is trying to do a good job (it is independent from their parliament) but that the influences of government, enacting bodgie laws, makes it hard for good ethical and moral outcomes. Again I think of the US.

    He also believes that the power of the internet is causing his own people to stand up to the corruption and envisages a new Arab spring type uprising. He believes that the army and all the tribal militants want peace, the people want peace and through the internet it will happen.

    The yanks are scaring me big time.

  • Bill
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:30 pm 0Likes

    Although referring to the US military complex in his farewell speech President Dwight D. Eisenhower said”

    “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

    He might have said:

    “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by industry groups. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

    I can certainly see the parallel.


  • Nick Marshall
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm 0Likes

    A very clear explanation of the threat from these Bills. But, as the speaker on the Ted video points out, this is just another artillery exchange of fire in a process that has been going on for years in this industry and many others. The bigger question is the abuse of the democratic process by special interest groups with unlimited pockets and venal people’s representatives in Congress or any other parliament.

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