Editorial: SOPA and the free internet's battle to the death

Holy crap, they're still trying to shove SOPA down our throats? After all that, they still don't get the problem with it? In case you haven't heard, the MPAA is still hard at work making deals with senators and congressmen in shadowy back rooms, even after all the previous pains such efforts brought on them.

I'm still sticking to my hypothesis that the problem of piracy is the fault of the studios themselves, and that it's their problem to fix. At best, legislation like SOPA (surely they won't be stupid enough to keep the same name?) will probably have no effect on piracy whatsoever, only hurting legitimate business and file transfers. At worst, it creates a dangerous precedent that will hurt everything but piracy.

The fact is, they're going to keep trying to pass laws like SOPA until it actually slips through. Maybe it'll be some shadowy back room deal that no one has a chance to oppose, or maybe it'll be hidden deep within some seemingly harmless bill. Maybe they'll even pass it openly, in one final, flamboyant middle finger to free speech.

At this point, I'm afraid that the only way that scenario doesn't happen is if there's a (not really) radical overhaul of existing free speech laws. It's going to take more than a pledge from the President not to pass any legislation that impacts access to or free speech on the Internet. It's going to take a Constitutional amendment to keep them from doing just that. I think the same argument can apply to pretty much any country, just replace 'Constitutional amendment' with the nearest legal equivalent.

Technically, the Constitution and basic human rights laws the world over should protect against such legislation. Any kind of law that says free speech and unrestricted access to information is a basic right should be totally redundant and unneeded. Sadly, that's being completely ignored.

This is as much a technological issue as it is a political one, but it seems to me that the Internet fills the same role as the literal free press did in its time in the spotlight. Sure, lots of it is drivel, but so was (and is) much of the literal press. There lots of good nuggets out there to be found by the discerning eye. In the modern world, more and more people are going to rely exclusively on the Internet and connected devices to get their information. Sure, I believe that libraries and books will live on, but I think that newspapers will be largely replaced in the future.

Any law that regulates what you can say on the Internet or cuts off access to it isn't any different than regulating what a paper can print or banning reading. A vital part of democracy and culture is threatened, and that's pretty scary.

Have no doubt: there's a storm coming, a showdown that will only end in the total defeat of one side. It's a battle between money, corruption, dying industries and the free and open Internet. Where will you stand?

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