Hey Honey, I think the SOPA rash is coming back!

I first got panic-chain-whatever mail early yesterday about this. I’d kinda written it off as more sensationalist screaming. We’d killed SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, and a bunch of other letter soup designed to turn the internet into a… whatever. Crave wrote a good article about it and let’s look at it for a minute.

But I’m not a pirate i don’t upload stuff that belongs to anyone else.

Do you like streaming your games over livestream, or putting let’s plays up on youtube? Then you will be breaking this new law. That’s what is apparently the focus of this new legislation. Livestreaming. Since apparently a few people that stream whole movies or TV programs scare enough people to pay lots of money to Congress to try making any streaming fair use or not criminal.

I find it sad and disturbing that our law makers seem to not care about fair use provisions. Even if they do make ‘allowances’ ask anyone who’s had DMCA takedown notices put up because some automated script saw a word or phrase in your video description. Scripts do not do things in good faith. Scripts do not care. Yet sites like Youtube have to comply even with automated notices otherwise they lose safe harbor status and would pretty much have to shut down due to the flood of lawsuits coming with that loss of status.

Now then what about SOPA? Sure the acronym changes between PIPA, ACTA, CISPA, and whatever else but let’s just call everything that tries strengthening copyright to the point where people will have to shut down because of derivative works SOPA since that’s what it is. The following TED talk goes into SOPA and why it’s wrong. It’s not up to date but it covers why any part of SOPA is still bad.

Granted this video focuses on SOPA being bad because it de-lists you from DNS, but let’s go into some of the reasons. Even without the DNS problem by forcing domains to take down offending content (which they already have to this just makes things worse) You’re silencing fans. You’re giving companies tools to go ‘you know we don’t like that you’re talking bad about our product, we’ll throw the law at you.’

And Jack Valenti… get rid of him. Get the former execs out of the copyright office. Mixtapes are not a crime. Time shifting is not a crime. Technically Team Fourstar is breaking the law and so is anyone else that makes a let’s play, mind of, abridged series, and so on.

Xbox One. You know how people complained and crowed at how it was going to shaft customers? That is what the people behind SOPA, not congress I’m talking about the people bending Congress’s ears telling them to push laws in We the People do not want, want as a default. Something that has to call home and make sure you are doing what they want you to do, and what they want is arbetrary and changeable on a moment’s notice according to whoever decides to invoke SOPA or whatever finally does pass.

The NSA records Everything (I’m going to assume so anyway.) However until they start breaking out the black bags that is passive. This? This is actively running around silencing critical opinions not just of entertainment media. That is where most people get this wrong. One of the groups that backed SOPA were pharmaceutical companies. What does a drug company have to do with sharing? They would benefit from being able to silence people talking about their policies and products.

Auto maker with faulty equipment? Substandard home contractor? Suddenly the great equalizer of suddenly easy to find word-of-mouth opinion and review isn’t there, or is harder to access because nobody wants anyone talking bad about their products and it’s easy to use a sledgehammer law to go after little Joe or Jane consumer instead of whatever magazines or papers might start doing ‘real’ reporting.

So SOPA can then be used to silence dissenting opinions and news of wrongdoing. It can and will make people blind to any opinion that does not agree with the approved consensus. In short combine SOPA with the War on Whistle Blowers and you have a framework where governments and companies can and will attempt to shape and direct public opinion.

What does this have to do with online streaming? Isn’t it good to go after people that are making illegal broadcasts?

Eh no. Given the number of people showing funny little remix shorts, mashup music videos, let’s plays, and so on getting the one or two that are showing actual full movies isn’t worth it. I’m not even talking from a moral perspective here I’m talking ‘you would kill a lot of free publicity and press by doing this’ meaning you don’t have as loyal a fanbase and that one oddball use someone finds isn’t going to get spread around nearly so well.

This sounds very tinfoil hat doesn’t it? Yea I don’t really believe there’s some organized conspiracy going on. That would mean a bunch of people would have to agree on sharing power and influence and as far as I’ve been able to tell nobody that rises to the top of either government or corporate settings wants to share with anybody least of all potential competitors. I have a much scarier idea. All of these people are so shortsighted and focused on the next quarter that they don’t see or care about what the long term effects will be. Stupidity or Evil. Stupidity scares me worse because it is very real and it is everywhere.

So what do we do?

If you’re American sign the whitehouse petition. Then after you do that you call your local congresscritters and tell the intern that answers the phone that you do not want any laws focusing on more regulation of the internet. Be polite since this person is going to be underpaid overworked and not appreciated in the least. Then write said congresscritter. I don’t mean write an email, even though that would also be a good thing to do. I mean physically write a letter and mail it in. Don’t know how to write a proper letter? Here you go, have an example to follow.

You’re Welcome.

Original Article Can be found here

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