Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stealing, Censorship, SOPA: What It Means to Me

Anyone who spends time on the internet knows that today websites everywhere are making a stand against SOPA, the current bill to stop online privacy. I think we can all agree that piracy of any kind isn't a good thing. Ask musicians. Ask authors. Ask artists. They pour their souls into creating something uniquely their own - be it a song, a book, an idea, or a piece of art. Just because they're giving it to the rest of us to enjoy does NOT mean they don't deserve the credit or the profit from their work of art. Theft of an idea or creation is still theft.

So, you would think that I would be in favor of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. You would be horribly wrong. SOPA, as it reads right now, is nothing more than a cleverly disguised attempt by government to have the authoritarian right to rob us all of our rights on the internet. I don't know if they planned it that way - I suspect that someone in Washington understands the implications of it as it reads now. But I would like to believe that the majority of our congress has no idea of the consequences if SOPA actually passes.

Can anyone say government censorship? How about police state?

And who will actually be monitoring sites? Who gets to determine what is acceptable content and what is not?

Look at your own blog. Do you have links to other sites? Do you quote anything? Do you have any images you've uploaded? Do you have background music? Sprites? Artwork? Do you discuss things that require you to reference ideas, books, works of art, music? Well, if the people behind SOPA have their way, they could shut your site down for any one of those things. At will - without explanation or ramifications!

SOPA is a good premise made into a bad document. Yes, we need some way to stop online piracy. Punishments should exist for people who steal other people's ideas to profit from them. No one has the right to strip an artist of their work. But if we, as a free nation, allow this document to pass, we're saying its okay for the government to spy on us, to shut us down if they don't like our opinions, to suppress our right to free speech. We're opening the door for Big Brother to not only get in but to take over. And that cannot be allowed to happen.

Speak up against SOPA. Tell your congress person that the way it reads is not only unacceptable, its reprehensible. Demand a real Act to stop piracy - one written by the very people it's meant to protect. They should be working with authors, musicians, artists, publishing houses, studios, etc. to create a bill that makes sense - not this scam of an Act that we'll all live to regret if it goes through.

SOPA needs to go along with online piracy.

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