Stopping SOPA, the online piracy act that would stifle the Internet

Published on Intrepid Report, by Jerry Mazza, January 13, 2012.

It seems like every day someone wants to create a new law to inhibit freedom, whether it’s freedom of speech or to assemble peacefully or to release purported “classified” government documents as does WikiLeaks. Today, it’s SOPA, the bill in the House, with its corollary bill in the Senate, the PROTECT IP Act.

They both desire to “Protect the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, including [and this is a reach], the jobs and revenue, necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws especially against foreign websites.”

Ironically, the mass of technical ins and outs of SOPA come from this linked Wiki, free encyclopedia piece. So check it before they’re outlawed or you and I are arrested. You for reading my piece, I for writing it and using some Wiki intellectual property, i.e. invaluable information. The article “that unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content [is] a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten pieces of music or movies [streamed] within six months.” That’s a bit draconian, wouldn’t you say? Five years in the big house for watching films and downloading music?

In fact, “Brooklyn Law School professor Jason Mazzone warns that, ‘Much of what will happen under SOPA will occur out of the public eye and without the possibility of holding anyone accountable. For when copyright law is made and enforced privately, it is hard for the public to know the shape that the law takes and harder still to complain about its operation.’” If you get five years for the above, downloading War and Peace should bring you a life sentence in a gulag.

In essence, this is really an attempt at privatizing the Internet, i.e., information generally speaking, which probably will strangle the Net with regulation. Opponents of this bill rightly include Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, LinkdedIn, eBay, Mozilla, Reddit, the Wikimedia Foundation, and human rights organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU and Human Rights Watch.”

Think of what the Internet would be without these great search engines, Social Media sites, free reporting of RWB and the conscience of the ACLU, reminding us these bills are a violation of free speech and a free Internet in the extreme, more no-no’s from our whacked corporate capitalists to inhibit learning … //

… But as a humble scribe, I can’t stress enough how much the free availability of news services, even Fox, and foreign information sources help you and me understand the very problem I’m writing about. Repression comes in many forms and SOPA and Protect IP throw a two-punch combo for it. They should be resisted like a line in the sand that can’t be crossed by the fat-cats; those who want to keep you ignorant for one reason or another or even to imprison you if you’ve been caught 10 times in six months (or some other arbitrary number) reading, writing and enjoying copyrighted material, whether it;s texts, music, film, games, software, on another website.

Bottom line, if they want a fee up front, they can ask for it. If you don’t want to pay it, move on. There’s a real simple way to end the problem, to turn the Internet into one vast marketplace, with an ongoing price war to win viewership. Love it? Not.

In fact, one complaint by one dork, could cause a great site to be closed down and the darkness descend like a curtain until it abounds. If I had a buck for every site that ever picked up one of my 700 articles, or part of them, or even payment for the original articles, which were done pro bono (for the common good), it would be a tidy sum. But hey, no complaints I say. It’s been a blast—and an education, which is what the Internet is all about. Giving and getting life-sustaining and protective information, news and entertainment. Beyond that, call in the clowns! (full long text).


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