The Stop Online Piracy Act

I’m a day late getting to the SOPA/PIPA Protest. I spent Blackout Day trying to find a comfortable position. My back and shoulders suddenly decided to go on strike against the rest of my body, and the picket lines they erected made life for the whole gang pretty uncomfortable. I alternated between lying down, sitting up, wandering around, ice packs, pain killers, and the odd dose of dark chocolate.

Things have settled down a bit today, so I can spend some time thinking about my position on the Stop Online Piracy Act. The goal of the United States House of Representatives seems worthy enough. In the briefest terms, the intent of it is: “… H.R. 3261 allows the Attorney General to seek injunctions against foreign websites that steal and sell American innovations and products.”

The devil is in the details and the enforcing of this legislation could possibly restrict the rights and freedoms of  everyone, not just the pirates. In the end, the pirates will find other ways to keep doing business, leaving those who abide by the law holding yet another bag of restrictions.

Of course, I am a Canadian, so I don’t spend too much time worrying about yet another limitation on the rights of Americans. But this new legislation is being supported by the American Music and Movie industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the electronic and auto industries, groups that seem a bit like pirates themselves sometimes.

I  think the internet today is like the Old West – open, free, and dangerous if you don’t take responsibility for your own welfare. Maybe SOPA is akin to when the military moved in to make things safer for folks who should probably have just headed back East to where things weren’t quite so wild.

The responsibility for policing the internet belongs to each and every person who accesses it. There would be no desire for legislation like SOPA if there weren’t so many ‘law abiding’ individuals who are willing to buy cheap pirated product.

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20 thoughts on “The Stop Online Piracy Act

    • Hi Pensioner – I’m not so sure they want to stop free speech as much as they want to stop intellectual piracy. But the way they want to stop it could certainly affect the freedom we all enjoy.

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  1. Hi,
    Yes I read some of the legislation on this, and the implications are scary, it will affect everyone is some sort of way. It will affect, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, regardless of what country we live in. I honestly don’t think a lot of people in Governments understand anything about the net.

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  2. I agree with you, and you have expressed the situation extremely well. I hope Congress listens to those of us who are resisting this new round of regulations they want to impose on this “Land of the Free” !
    It isn’t just expression that could be affected; those of us with businesses on Etsy could be hurt. As I understand it, if even one vendor is accused of piracy, the whole site could be shut down.
    Melissa

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    • Hi Melissa – that is the problem with new legislation – no one can really speculate what might happen when regulations get to the enforcement stage. I think that is why people are so concerned – no one knows what will, or will not, happen! Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

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  3. How the Online Piracy Act can achieve their goal is very questionable. But, over the time the side effect will be huge, and the impact will be on ordinary people who use, share, and create information and knowledge. Thank you for post this important issue while dealing with your physical discomfort.

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  4. I like the comparison to an Old West. That is, indeed, what a lot of the internet is like. We’re vulnerable. With predictions that cell phones will be the new focus of trouble – those will have to be fortified, as well. And in the end, you’re right, we each have to take responsibility for our protection and keep ourselves informed. And yes – no one country can stand alone when the internet is worldwide. With almost anything in the world today – not just internet freedom.

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    • Hi Barb – Fortunately there are many tools available on the internet to help keep us safer. Web browsers, Internet Security Suites and even search engines let us access the internet but filter the result. But in the end, we are each given the power to choose what we want to see on the internet. For most people, that is a good thing.

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  5. Your point about the mega-corps supporting this bill seeming a bit like pirates themselves is such a good one. I am leery of any legislation that comes from our government that seems to represent the interests of those who support their campaigns for re-election and not the consititutents they supposedly represent.

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    • Hi Lorna – I think this is perhaps an example of what Occupy Wall Street might be critical of – legislation initiated by lobbyists. That is not to say it is necessarily bad legislation, just that it represents one group only.

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  6. Margie, this is an important issue; thanks for talking about it. I hate to see too many regulations put in place. And I think you brought up an important point that we need to be willing to pay sometimes and not take things without asking just because it’s on the internet. If someone says it’s free, that’s a different thing, but if someone says it’s not free, we should honor it.

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    • Hi yearstricken – I was in Venice a few years ago. There were street vendors all along the wharf. One of them was selling handbags – Louis Vuitton – for dirt cheap. The lady I was with bought several. I told her they were knock offs, but she insisted they weren’t, though deep down she must have known because she told me what a bargain they were. But still, she insisted they were genuine. So I asked her to explain to me why the label and the lining of the handbag said “Ouis Vuitton”, not “Louis Vuitton” – a missing ‘L’ sort of said it all.
      Whether it is over the internet, or in a tourist trap somewhere, pirates are making good money by illegally producing and distributing copyright products. The best that each of us can do is to try not to support them.

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