Editorial

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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35 Comments

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I notice everyone opposed to SOPA gets so flamboyantly retarded that not even your own Family would listen to your "points". And everyone for it doesn't quite understand how much this will effect them, even if they follow the laws. It's equally shameful on both sides.

Calm down, state your opinions in a clear, concise way and only then will people listen to what you have to say. Stop being retarded and we can win this thing.

thats how our right to freely assemble during the Occupy protests happened and supposedly arrested because people need permits. Ahem yeah thats called the constitution. and the bill of rights. thats the permit.

Good editorial Tyler.

We need to keep raising awareness of what the media lobby is still trying to ram down our throats, despite the publicity surrounding SOPA.

I think this kind of "We'll get it in one way or another" mentality of lobbyists reflects badly on the state of our so called democracies. When senators and congressmen can be bought so cheaply it reveals the ugly reality of the whole system. The only way to fix it is to stop political bribes (contributions). Politicians are supposed to represent the people, not lobbyists, but that's exactly what's happening.

The study done in France proves that cutting piracy has no effect what so ever on declining copyright industries (physical recorded music).

Well, you had me until you said "unrestricted access to information". Words MEAN things, my friend, and you just blew your credibility. Free speech makes sense as a human right, hence it's presence in our founding documents. But unrestricted access to information does not. You shouldn't have access to any information I have unless I expressly grant you that right. For something to be a basic human right you have to have some basis upon which that right is based. Our founding fathers--and I, as a matter of fact--believe that human rights and inalienable rights are the same, and they are God-given. This means no government or no person can or should be able to grant or retain them. When a right is a human, personal, inalienable right, it's something completely centered around and the responsibility of the individual. I speak, and there should be nothing short of God to tell me I cannot speak. I pursue happiness, therefore there should be nothing short of God to stop my PURSUIT (there is no guarantee of actually acquiring) happiness. And, of course, I have life and there should be nothing short of God to cease that life (which is precisely why abortion is wrong, no matter what Planned Parenthood says). But access to information? You have no grounds at all upon which to build that case.

ScubaDog said,
...

I undstand what you're saying, and I think we're on the same page. By 'unrestricted access to information,' I was trying to say that you should be able to access any information that someone chooses to distribute publicly. You might even have to pay for that information (books or newspapers, for instance), but if someone chooses to make it available, no one should be able to restrict you from looking at it, regardless of content.

ScubaDog said,
You shouldn't have access to any information I have unless I expressly grant you that right. For something to be a basic human right you have to have some basis upon which that right is based. Our founding fathers--and I, as a matter of fact--believe that human rights and inalienable rights are the same, and they are God-given. This means no government or no person can or should be able to grant or retain them. When a right is a human, personal, inalienable right, it's something completely centered around and the responsibility of the individual. I speak, and there should be nothing short of God to tell me I cannot speak. I pursue happiness, therefore there should be nothing short of God to stop my PURSUIT (there is no guarantee of actually acquiring) happiness. And, of course, I have life and there should be nothing short of God to cease that life (which is precisely why abortion is wrong, no matter what Planned Parenthood says). But access to information? You have no grounds at all upon which to build that case.
So we go from freedom of information to abortion? Interesting. Don't you think there should be a middle ground on things instead of this constant black or white every four years? Maybe abortion should be legal in cases of abuse, rape, or the mother/fetus' life is at risk... just sayin'

Now, you don't think information should be free? It should be controlled? Or do you mean creative property shouldn't be free? Controlling knowledge and information is tantamount to 1984, Hitler, you name it.

If these dinosaurs and pigopolists of the entertainment industry are continuously failing to
understand how the internet works, and what it could do for them if they took advantage
of it, rather than trying to stifle it, then in my opinion, all these antiquated organisations
deserve to become victims of the worldwide recession, and go out of business.

DJGM said,
If these dinosaurs and pigopolists of the entertainment industry are continuously failing to
understand how the internet works, and what it could do for them if they took advantage
of it, rather than trying to stifle it, then in my opinion, all these antiquated organisations
deserve to become victims of the worldwide recession, and go out of business.

It is not their understanding of the internet that causes them to fail. Everything they do causes them to fail.

They are stupid. They need to listen and pay attention to the customers and what we really want. Then they can provide us a better product and at the end they will make more money.

DJGM said,
If these dinosaurs and pigopolists of the entertainment industry are continuously failing to
understand how the internet works, and what it could do for them if they took advantage
of it, rather than trying to stifle it, then in my opinion, all these antiquated organisations
deserve to become victims of the worldwide recession, and go out of business.

It is not their understanding of the internet that causes them to fail. Everything they do causes them to fail.

They are stupid. They need to listen and pay attention to the customers and what we really want. Then they can provide us a better product and at the end they will make more money.

Piracy is not the problem, you only need to look at the new French law and it's effect or lack thereof on it's music sales.

As for movies, 99% of people will go and see a movie on the Big screen if it's good enough. They've just been churning out crap atm and in a creative rutt so to speak.

Tartan said,
Piracy is not the problem, you only need to look at the new French law and it's effect or lack thereof on it's music sales.

As for movies, 99% of people will go and see a movie on the Big screen if it's good enough. They've just been churning out crap atm and in a creative rutt so to speak.

That's a lazy argument and it doesn't hold water. France's entire legal system is different than ours, and they hold difference assumptions than we do. You cannot make the case that just because their piracy laws work there that they would work here. First off, I'll remind you they are socialist and we are (mostly) capitalist.

You state, without qualification, that "piracy is not the problem". Okay, since you appear to have the big picture, I challenge you to share what the problem IS. The problem with this industry (as with so many) is that they don't engage the tools of Lean and root cause analysis. We're too quick to express a pain, a symptom, and then knee-jerk react to come up with a "solution" that's really only a band-aid for the symptom instead of getting to the real root cause. I see this exemplified by the fact that none of the people or entities in favor of SOPA can agree on the actual PROBLEM STATEMENT. You'd think it could be as simple as "people are obtaining unlicensed copies of copyrighted material", but even that is probaby not the real problem statement. Oh, to be sure, it is from the legal viewpoint---copyrights exist for a reason, so who are you to say that the owner of the copyright should suddenly give up those rights? But, from the media industry point of view I'm convinced that the REAL complaint is that they PERCEIVE lost REVENUE over every illegally-obtained copy of material to which they hold the rights. First off, NOBODY has the right to tell them "you've made enough money off that material, so give it up for free". If you believe otherwise, then I'm convinced you voted for Obama and you are cordially invited to go live in a real socialist country and leave MY country immediately. Having said that, there's an important question that nobody has answered: just because the industry PERCEIVES a loss of revenue, is there an ACTUAL loss of revenue? By this, I mean if there was magically no other way to obtain the material other than purchasing it, would people have decided against getting the material? I'm sure in some cases NO. But I've not seen a quantifiable examination as to what the true answer is. In defense of music sharing, I will say one thing, though. The media industry has not done a good job of making available every scrap of music that has ever been recorded. There are MANY artists or albums that never made it to digital format or did for a ridiculously short time and now you can find them nowhere in the world---other than via file-sharing sites where the one individual who bought the CD has made it available. In other words, I've personally had cases where I'd gladly pay for the material IF it was available SOMEwhere.

So, there are selfish idiots who believe all media should be free, and you'll never find a reasonable price in their eyes. There are those who would pay if the prices were more reasonable. There are those who are frustrated by the limited or complete lack of availability of specific material. And then there are those who are perfectly fine with the system as it is.

Tartan said,
Piracy is not the problem, you only need to look at the new French law and it's effect or lack thereof on it's music sales.

As for movies, 99% of people will go and see a movie on the Big screen if it's good enough. They've just been churning out crap atm and in a creative rutt so to speak.

I think a lot of people just dislike the big screen atmosphere. I'd would 10x rather sit in my recliner (that massages), have a beer, smoke a cig, and watch a movie, than be crammed into a theater, with a bunch of other people, in uncomfortable chairs, beerless, dealing with loud noises and phones.

It sucks that I have to wait months for my version of comfort thanks to the MPAA, because they won't release it via streaming, or physical, along with theater release.
That just causes less than savory ways of attaining such product so we can have it our way.
So, yes, it is their fault for their archaic model.

DaveBG said,
Internet should be open and free and everyone else should adapt to it.

You must be a child pornographer, then? (*using the absurd to make a point)

DaveBG said,
Internet should be open and free and everyone else should adapt to it.

Just like how we should be able to go into Best Buy and walk out with a TV without paying, and no one should prosecute us!

ScubaDog said,

You must be a child pornographer, then? (*using the absurd to make a point)

His statement does not make him what you say.

andrewbares said,

Just like how we should be able to go into Best Buy and walk out with a TV without paying, and no one should prosecute us!

His statement does not imply he supports theft.

DaveBG said,
Internet should be open and free and everyone else should adapt to it.
I agree, and that's the way it has been. That's obviously why they're trying to push these bills, too: the MPAA, finding itself unable to adapt, is instead attempting to maintain their stranglehold.

want to stop sopa forever? stop freaking pirating crap and you'll never see another piece of legislation like this again. can't do that? well then get used to things you don't like.

neonspark said,
want to stop sopa forever? stop freaking pirating crap and you'll never see another piece of legislation like this again. can't do that? well then get used to things you don't like.

Are you really that stupid? Even if there was no piracy the RIAA/MPAA would still try to restrict us to the point that we can only consume the crap they produce. They are trying to kill of freelance creativity here, it's about killing potential competition, not piracy. They're just making it look like a piracy battle to fool people such as yourself who don't get the big picture and the implications of a law like this.

Even if you don't pirate a single thing, this law will severely cripple your rights on the internet.

Chris123NT said,

Are you really that stupid? Even if there was no piracy the RIAA/MPAA would still try to restrict us to the point that we can only consume the crap they produce. They are trying to kill of freelance creativity here, it's about killing potential competition, not piracy. They're just making it look like a piracy battle to fool people such as yourself who don't get the big picture and the implications of a law like this.

Even if you don't pirate a single thing, this law will severely cripple your rights on the internet.

I am against SOPA...but are YOU really that stupid? "the RIAA/MPAA would still try to restrict us to the point that we can only consume the crap they produce". Seriously? They have zero control over independent artists/producers of content. SOPA wouldn't be able to stop that (there are plenty of other flaws with the concept of SOPA to complain about). I'm really tired of people being intellectually lazy when they get emotionally charged with an issue. Actually read the various versions of legislation---build your case against what's in there (and that's plenty, believe me) instead of manufacturing hyperboli. that damages legitimate arguments against SOPA.

neonspark said,
want to stop sopa forever? stop freaking pirating crap and you'll never see another piece of legislation like this again. can't do that? well then get used to things you don't like.

So the American government would never, on their own accord, try to control the flow of information, people, or news/media?

Which track record are you looking? For which country? That's where I want to move.

KCRic said,

So the American government would never, on their own accord, try to control the flow of information, people, or news/media?

Which track record are you looking? For which country? That's where I want to move.

You're simply afraid of the government having too much power? News flash, they already have a ton of power, and in my opinion they're not doing anything wrong with it.

SOPA is simply ensuring that you can't STEAL things.

Pirating is EXACTLY like going into a store, taking something, and walking out without paying. It's STEALING.

ScubaDog said,

I am against SOPA...but are YOU really that stupid? "the RIAA/MPAA would still try to restrict us to the point that we can only consume the crap they produce". Seriously? They have zero control over independent artists/producers of content. SOPA wouldn't be able to stop that (there are plenty of other flaws with the concept of SOPA to complain about). I'm really tired of people being intellectually lazy when they get emotionally charged with an issue. Actually read the various versions of legislation---build your case against what's in there (and that's plenty, believe me) instead of manufacturing hyperboli. that damages legitimate arguments against SOPA.


Actually I have read the various drafts of SOPA and PIPA and there is plenty that can be done under the law to hurt independent artists and producers.

andrewbares said,


SOPA is simply ensuring that you can't STEAL things.

The problem is that in the process the law is getting poorly written and is not well defined. That leaves the possibility for the law to be exploited by lawyers and corporations.

That is why everyone is against this SOPA.

andrewbares said,

You're simply afraid of the government having too much power? News flash, they already have a ton of power, and in my opinion they're not doing anything wrong with it.

SOPA is simply ensuring that you can't STEAL things.

Pirating is EXACTLY like going into a store, taking something, and walking out without paying. It's STEALING.


No, it's not exactly like that, because that would leave the store with one less copy to sell, which would cost them the price they paid for it. Piracy would be like going into a store with a device that can make and exact duplicate of something and then walking out with that copy without the store owner being hurt and nobody being any the wiser.

andrewbares said,

You're simply afraid of the government having too much power? News flash, they already have a ton of power, and in my opinion they're not doing anything wrong with it.

SOPA is simply ensuring that you can't STEAL things.

Pirating is EXACTLY like going into a store, taking something, and walking out without paying. It's STEALING.

Yes I'm afraid of the government having too much power. Yes, they already do have too much power. Why? People like you who just lay down and take it. You see some law written and think "Oh, well there's no way the government would use this for some evil. They do no evil, they look out only for our interests. Not their own and certainly not any outside interests".

After having been a pawn in their stupid game (2-6 Cav) I could sit here all day and tell you how the government has way too much power, greed, corruption, selfishness, disregard for sovereignty, and a whole load of other sh** that rolls all the way down the chain to people like you. But it wouldn't matter. Someday you'll have a chip in your arm and I'm sure you'll still accept it as them protecting you from the 'scary pirates and terrorists'. Enjoy your ash skeleton of what use to be a great nation.

I will stand for the open internet. But I hope the movie industries won't die because of it and that these cases will be dealt with, else we won't see any good movies in the future.

So best is that they really look for the person who abuse the web with posting these free downloads rather and block them instead of blocking everyone.

Niekess said,
I will stand for the open internet. But I hope the movie industries won't die because of it and that these cases will be dealt with, else we won't see any good movies in the future.

So best is that they really look for the person who abuse the web with posting these free downloads rather and block them instead of blocking everyone.


I'd agree, if there was such a thing as a 'good movie' released in the past 10 years created by one of the big studios, which there hasn't.

n_K said,

I'd agree, if there was such a thing as a 'good movie' released in the past 10 years created by one of the big studios, which there hasn't.

The effects are already visible..

Niekess said,

The effects are already visible..

no it's becuase they are lazy and can't think of anything good... lack of creativity not money

I'm one of the people that downloads movies. Sure I buy movies, but I can't support an industry where you go into a room filled with strangers and the quality is horrible. The movie industry just has to evolve. I pay for content like Spotify (Music) and Netflix (Movies) because they are extremely convenient. But the movie industry has yet to change their model. Besides, they have made it perfectly clear, they would rather have pirates than have their movies being streamed through services like Netflix. Besides, they exaggerate the whole piracy thing anyway.

http://www.techdirt.com/articl...l-also-delays-queuing.shtml
http://www.upbeacon.net/movie-...racy-1.2803177#.T4QrDdmGWF8
http://www.techdirt.com/articl...me-theyre-true-anyway.shtml
http://www.forbes.com/sites/in...piracy-will-never-kill-you/

Niekess said,
I will stand for the open internet. But I hope the movie industries won't die because of it and that these cases will be dealt with, else we won't see any good movies in the future.

So best is that they really look for the person who abuse the web with posting these free downloads rather and block them instead of blocking everyone.

The movie industry won't die, they will live off their funds for a while, then they'll get close to bankruptcy and be bought by a new MPAA, the question is, will the new MPAA be a better company, or will they continue their old antics?