Monday, December 19, 2011

SOPA & PIPA

I really hope it goes without saying that I am 100% against SOPA and PIPA. First, I want to kind of give a brief overview of just what they will do, and then why I think it's wrong. I feel like a lot of sites tend to give a brief dumbed-down summary, speculations on what it will do (e.g. "killing off eBay"), and then a link to write your congressman. Well, my brother recently asked me to explain them to him, so here's what I come to understand them as:

The crux of them is that they basically upgrade piracy to the status of a federal crime, and both the user that uploaded it and the website can be taken to court. You can actually be sentenced to 5 years in prison just for violating a copyright, and then the website that hosted that material, whether or not they knew it was there, is blocked by all ISPs by order of the government, no questions asked. Plus, the government can also order Google and other search engines to de-index the site as well. (That alone should scare people.) One guy on Youtube said it's basically "guilty until proven innocent." Pretty much everybody in the country is against it except for the entertainment industry. Google, Mozilla, Facebook, Twitter, and literally millions of individuals have voiced their opinions, and these are people who actually know how the internet works. I still find it funny that people are allowed to vote for the SOPA when they don't even know what a DNS is or how it works. The only groups I've seen support it are part of the people who think that they can gain money from it, like Comcast (a cable provider), and NBC. It's not even that this bill is that entirely terrible, because all you have to do is just use a DNS outside the country and you can get past all that blocking stuff, but it scares me because I know that the entertainment industry won't just stop there. This is capitalism, and if they can push the law to make more money, they will.

The thing that makes me uncomfortable about these bills is the level of power they are trying to wield to get rid of the problem. It's like nuking a city because there's a cockroach under the fridge, or as the same guy on Youtube said, "burning down your house because you have an ant problem". It very well may stop piracy, but the force being used is too excessive. This bill is not designed to fight piracy, it is designed to end piracy by squashing out way more than in needs to just to be sure.

But even that is being too nice for this bill because to think that one single bill could end piracy is absolutely moronic and shows that people who are in support of it do not know what they are talking about. How many times have we seen "the death of piracy" over the years? The death of Napster? The PirateBay founders being imprisoned? Every single time, these actions that were supposed to be catastrophic to the idea of piracy have left barely even a dent. Do you know why? Because pirates finds a way. If you shut down torrents, they will use Usenet. If you shut down Usenet, they will create some other protocol. If you unplug the internet, there will be millions of CD exchanges. The goal of eliminating piracy is not only ridiculous, but it is so wrong that it is actually damaging the fight against the real problem.


I am against piracy. Ask anyone at my work that, all of whom who "dock in the Pirate Bay", as I like to say, and I am pretty much the only person there who actually still buys his music. I do not take the stupidity of many of the reasons for piracy, such as supporting them from buying merchandise or "it's not stealing, it's sharing". Piracy is stealing, and if you do it, you do it because it is free and you don't want to pay. But this act is taking the complete wrong approach. It's just hacking away at the leaves when it really needs to go for the root.

DRM failed miserably and it is finally all but gone on digital media, and the only thing it did was cause many people disdain for the companies that enforced it. I find that people tend to work with you much more if you treat them with respect, and that's what there needs to be: a new entertainment industry model that treats both the artists/creators and consumers with respect. I'm not going to pretend to know the answer. I'll gladly admit, I don't know what that new system is, but I do know that it is not SOPA. SOPA is internet censorship, pure and simple.

And sure, today, it's DNS, but what comes next? Comcast has already been caught blocking BitTorrent traffic and the Pirate Bay as well. I'm still no expert in networking, but isn't it possible to not only block the DNS of a site but also all traffic to and from it? And the most terrifying thing of all is that it plays under the guise of something that is so righteous. When I tell people that there is something called the "Stop Online Piracy Act", most of them (unless they are pirates) are in support of it, because most people agree that Piracy is wrong. But putting a pretty face on it doesn't make it any more valid, it only makes it more deceptive to those that don't know any better. We that do know better cannot let acts like this pass. It is our responsibility to stop it.

"Yes, it's bad that piracy can happen. But it's because we are free that it can happen. Think about that. If you remove one, you remove the other." -PhantomAlucard
"SOPA: sacrificing the rights of the many to protect an industry that is too stubborn and greedy to evolve." -Me

-Bry

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