SOPA and PIPA: It Isn’t Over

First, we want to link to a video from Cory Doctorow, a writer, and someone whose career and income are tied to intellectual property rights, and the ‘net:

This isn’t a fight against government, is the thing. It’s a fight against organizations like the MPAA and the RIAA, who wrote the legislation in the first place:

Reeling from a broad Internet backlash, the Motion Picture Associaton of America has conceded that DNS filtering will not be included in the anti-piracy bills now making their way through Congress.

“DNS filtering is really off the table,” said Paul Brigner, the MPAA’s tech policy chief, on Tuesday. His remarks came during a debate on SOPA at the State of the Net conference in Washington DC. The event was sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee.

It’s a fight against the same people who wanted to make owning a VCR a criminal offense—that’s not the government. They just use money to wield the government as a tool to impose their will on smaller concerns/companies/individuals.

We dunno about you, but we know we damned well have never seen the MPAA on a ballot—so why the hell are they writing legislation? They aren’t the government, and the government is not the enemy here—let’s be VERY clear about that.

As tempting as it may be to believe this is really all about the US government wanting to prevent Twitter conversations in the event of an American version of the Arab Spring, it’s really much more prosaically about who gets to make money from the Internet, and how, and who is going to provide content, and who gets to say what, where, and how, and then make money off of that content. Sites like this? They’ll all be behind paywalls, owned by “people” like Time-Warner, Disney, Comcast, or Verizon, where you pay a subscription fee for the privilege of participating, waive all rights to anything you might write and post, agree not to ever post any links to anywhere else on the web—and your credit card, age and location demographics, and what kind of insurance you carry for the car you drive is all information someone else can sell or trade like so many baseball cards.

It’s about dinosaur private concerns trying to make money off of everyone else by controlling our content, our knowledge, our writing, our information—all of which they want total rights to, for free, to exploit at will.

That’s not the government that’s the problem—and it’s a dangerous mistake to think it is. Government regulations largely made the development of the internet possible in the first place, by protecting these waters from the private-interest sharks who want to swim here gobbling the efforts of all the developers and bloggers and artisans who created this in the first place. Government regulation isn’t the enemy here, it’s making sure that the “money=speech and corporations=people” contingent doesn’t get to just out-spend everyone else in the digital world and as a result, bully their way into owning the deed on all of our virtual houses.

Read this story from site owner Matt Howey of Metafilter regarding how very very stupid the underlying premise about the nature of digital files and intellectual property and the Internet. Howie’s site hosted an MP3 file that was created by a member, but has a similar name to a different song. He almost lost his entire site.

Please note, those who think SOPA and PIPA will do anything, at all, to halt the distribution of works without remuneration to the creators, that neither MPAA nor the RIAA have ever distributed monies collected via the judicial process to any creator of the works for which the organizations pressed infringement claims.

Neither of these proposed statutes as well as other changes to Title 17, the copyright section of U.S. Federal law, are in accord, at all with the United States Constitution.

Article II section 8 of the Constitution stipulates that Congress is:

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries

PIPA and SOPA and similar proposed statutes not only make it trivial to take down, permanently, and remove a site for an assertion of copyright violation, there’s no check for a blanket assertion of prior right—that is, no mashups, no parody, no satire, because there is no safe harbor.

Notice the language of the MPAA memo wherein Chris Dodd, the Chair of the MPAA, asserts that it’s an “abuse of power” to engage in blackouts/taking our own sites offline in protest—because in the Corporate view, they own all the content, whether or not they’ve paid for it.

It’s not about stopping piracy. The major pirate sites don’t even use domain names. They’re not even a little worried by SOPA or PIPA. In fact, the MPAA’s assertions of the loss from illegal copying appear bogus.

It’s really about controlling content. Your content. Your contntent on your own sites and blogs, or on sites like this, or on on Facebook, or Twitter.

It’s about stopping you and everyone else with access to the ‘net from saying anything corporate entities don’t like—or can’t make money from.

It’s a corporate conglomerate Big Brother for the digital age.

Chuck Wendig, another writer, cogently observes notes:

See, the Internet is this unruly pubic tangle of possibility. It is raw potential given form and it puts a great deal of power in the hands of the individual (are you listening, creative-types?). Power in the hands of individuals can, in some cases, wrest power from the hands of corporations. And corporations don’t like that, so they go to the government and they pour giant buckets of money into the government’s slavering maw and lobby for legislation and the result is, in this case, SOPA, PIPA, and any other naughty anti-pirate hydra-heads that pop up.

Between us, we have several dogs in this fight. We own and admin several large sites. We produce scholarship that we are not paid for, and make available to other scholars, we write and paid for commercially published works that are pirated within hours of being published, and we run and write for several Websites besides this one.

But SOPA and PIPA won’t do a thing to impair illegal versions of our works propagating like bunnies on crack. Because the people and sites distributing works without permission won’t be affected by SOPA and PIPA. SOPA and PIPA and similar laws still on the table will allow a disgruntled user, or a greedy corporate hack, to claim our work.

Note by the way that the U. S. Superior Court has decided that it is possible to assert copyright over a public domain work even if you didn’t create it.

Copyright law in the United States was originally meant to allow us to increase and share information, after allowing human creators to be rewarded for their labors. The MPAA and RIAA and large media conglomerates aren’t interested in sharing anything, not even with the people who create the works they sell.

Will Wheaton, someone else who writes and creates for a living, observes that “Reinforcing the fact that Chris Dodd really does not get what’s happening, and showing just how disgustingly corrupt the MPAA relationship is with politicians, Chris Dodd went on Fox News to explicitly threaten politicians who accept MPAA campaign donations that they’d better pass Hollywood’s favorite legislation… or else:

“Those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake

Days after SOPA was put on hold, Federal agents arrested employees and seized assets including domain names of alleged infringing pirate site Megaupload.

Federal agents proved astonishingly successful and quite capable of executing a takedown without the use of either SOPA or PIPA.

SOPA and PIPA and their descendants and close relatives aren’t going to do squat about pirates, or illegal files, or malware, or, god help us, spam. Spam actually costs us a lot more money and man-hours than piracy. Strangely, no one is proposing to nuke the Net just to stop spammers.