I am unlocking this entry because I want it to be seen. Many people have already blogged about this
, but I'm adding my voice as well because the more, the better.
SOPA stands for "Stop Online Piracy Act."
Depending on how long you've known me, some of you already know how I feel about internet piracy. To be blunt, I hate it. As a writer, I don't think it's fair that some hacker out there in the ether could take it upon him or herself to steal my work and put it up for someone else to gank for free. I think it's disrespectful to not be supportive of an artist, downloading their material instead of buying them.
That is my opinion, which I came to after careful consideration, and I share it when the subject comes up. I made a choice not to illegally download, and I encourage others to make that choice as well--but it's still their decision.
SOPA wants to make those decisions for everyone now. Many writers
(and possibly other artists, but I mostly check out writers' blogs) have already made it VERY clear
that whatever SOPA thinks they're doing on behalf of artists is not okay. I am vehemently opposed to this act now that I know how it will actually function.
But first, let's talk about the history of the piracy war:
Remember Napster? That happened when I was in college, which means this war has been going on for my ENTIRE adult life. I am passionate about my stance on it, and can be quite vocal and obnoxious if I'm allowed to get going. (Some of you on my f'list may have experienced this personally, so sorry about that. I do get on a roll sometimes.)
At first, I, like many teenagers, didn't see what the problem was. And I still don't believe most people who download music, movies, and TV shows do so with malicious intent. In the beginning especially, the most that passed through our heads was, "Hey, free stuff! Awesome!" Then the crackdowns started, and many of us felt real smug about sticking it to The Man and getting away with it.
Then, the musicians piped up and said, "Hey, guys, seriously, that's not cool. Quit stealing our stuff." This isn't about money and never has been. If these artists wanted to make their work available for free, that's what they would have done in the first place. Someone went behind their backs, including fans, and that's what stung.
Once we all had a better idea about how the people who actually created the work--as opposed to The Man--felt about it, some of us changed our minds. Me being one of them. What you ultimately decided is your choice, and I might disagree with you (sometimes loudly and obnoxiously), but the key thing is the choice itself.
I understand the desire to stop pirates in their tracks. But the recording industry tried slapping massive lawsuits on twelve-year-old music fans a while back, and did that stop the pirates? Hells no. Did it stop anyone downloading? Pfft.
SOPA will not stop them either. Internet pirates have always been smarter, faster and meaner than any of the people trying to stop them, and are probably figuring out a way to navigate around this massive potential firewall--or might have done by now already.
This piece of legislation is not targeting pirates. It's targeting EVERY website that could potentially contain copyrighted material not being used by its original owner.
What this means is:
All you people who make avatars, wallpapers and banners out of pictures that you didn't personally take yourself? Your blogs are history.
The social networking sites on which people use those avatars, such as the entirety of LiveJournal, Blogger and WordPress? Gone.
The image-hosting sites you went to to get those pictures in the first place, like Tumbler, DeviantArt, Photobucket? Outta here.
Search engines that may have brought you to those image-hosting sites, like Bing, Google, Yahoo? Forget it.
Text-based research and information wikis that use similar images on specific entries, like TV Tropes and WikiPedia? Not a chance.
Basically, this act will allow the US government to police, control and filter everything on the ENTIRE internet.
They can do it without any hard evidence, and without giving you a court hearing first.
This is not justice. This is a witch hunt, and pirates will be the last people harmed or even mildly inconvenienced by it.
I think it speaks volumes that the very people SOPA claims it's trying to protect--writers and artists--are NOT OKAY with this.
I am not okay with this.
We wanted you to make the pirates walk the plank. We did NOT want you to build us our own Great Firewall.