Today I joined millions [perhaps billions] on a virtual soapbox against the proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) legislation. To keep it brief, the internet staged a modern day version of a sit-in or boycott in peaceful protest of two bills which if passed would potentially give rise to Hitler-like control of the internet.
Perhaps my humble pixel in the vast internet multiverse was overlooked but when sites like Wikipedia jump on board, people notice.
I remember when I first decided to become a lawyer wanting to do something different, and by different I mean something that would change the world and make me wealthy. During my research I learned there was very little (if anything) in the way of international or internet law – I figured this would be the path I would create. Like Mighty Mouse I would save the day by forging new trails in both internet and international law. Oh yes, I always have lofty goals. I have since decided it was not the path for me, but unfortunately it means no one has completed the arduous task of creating laws to protect and regulate the internet (technically still not much in international either, but we’ll save that for another day). Fast forward a little bit and you come upon the issues created by the power of the internet and the lack of control.
Everyone has seen ads from actors, musicians, record labels and studios asking people to stop pirating music and movies. It is a real problem and I don’t subscribe to the school of thought that the companies make so much money that it shouldn’t matter, they aren’t really hurting. Regardless of one’s feelings about the studios and labels, we should care about the creative individuals whose ideas are put out there for us to enjoy. Don’t the labels and studios screw them over enough? So the idea was that SOPA and PIPA would protect copyrights and keep people from stealing intellectual property. Sounds fantastic, but when a law is introduced with language that could potentially hurt one person for the actions of another, we have another problem. With these laws a site like the one I work for, Opposing Views, could be shut down and lose a grip in revenue if someone came and submitted an article with “stolen” information or copyrighted material. Still confused? With SOPA, Justin Bieber’s mother could have been arrested and fined for putting up YouTube videos of her son singing other people’s songs. She didn’t do it to make money, right? But he ended up with a pretty fat contract did he not? In short, SOPA = No Bieber. Oh, now we get it! I am obviously “dumbing it down” a bit but the point is made.
I loved some of the internet memes that popped up everywhere. (Lo0ove Skyrim!)
I even got into a few friendly debates with friends.
Regardless of your position, I think it is important to have one. That’s all.
UPDATE: According to the International Business Times, Senator Lemar Smith has pulled SOPA!