It’s January 18. Wikipedia, among other prominent sites, is blacked out in protest against SOPA and PIPA. (Would’ve been effective to leave up just a page on SOPA/PIPA, of course, but I’m not the founder, so it’s not my say.) I didn’t particularly feel like blacking out today, though. I felt like lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness. It occurred to me, after all, that part of why I wasn’t fussed about either bill was that I had no idea what they constituted.
So I’m striking a metaphorical match.*
I guess the nutshell version, for me, is this:
The bills propose that anyone found guilty of streaming copyrighted content without permission 10 or more times within six months should face up to five years in jail. (bbc.co.uk)
Now, I’m a great fan of “with permission” sites like Pandora, Grooveshark, soma.fm, and any public radio outlet. The problem is that such “with permission” sites make up maaaaybe 1% of what’s out there. Everything spreads without permission, and by the time most of us see, say, a graphic, it’s difficult to figure out who owns the thing.
And why, pray tell, don’t copyright holders protect their goodies better? I can right-click and download an awful lot. Why not disable that, if they’re all so touchy about who uses what? I understand this does nothing against screencappers, but it’s a start, and one that several sites have already made. (None of which I can name off the top of my head. You’ll know them when you visit them.)
The US government and rights holders would have the right to seek court orders against any site accused of “enabling or facilitating” piracy. This could theoretically involve an entire website being shut down because it contains a link to a suspect site.
Goodness me, that’s most of the Internet.
The bills originally demanded that internet service providers block users from being able to access suspect sites using a technique called Domain Name System (DNS) blocking. . . This would effectively make them “disappear” from the internet – and is a process already used in China and Iran. However, after opponents claimed this could disrupt the internet’s underlying architecture, the chief sponsor of each bill agreed to ditch the measure.
Note the sponsors’ motivation. Not “oh, dear, we’re turning into bloody China and Iran”, “we might break the Internet”.
Here’s a giant list of supporters outside Washington, and I never thought I’d stand opposite a lot of these people.** Nor did I think I’d see the day when Senator Feinstein put her name to such a trainwreck; sadly, I was less surprised to see my own Senator Schumer on the list. Note that the list of Representatives is harder to find. Also that I am vastly amused that a Mr. Smith of Texas put it up. Of course it’d be a flipping Texan.***
The anti-piracy legislation still has high-profile supporters including News Corporation’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch.
I’m not opposed to people receiving due payment for their work. I’m quite happy about that part, actually. If I love a library book, I buy it! Ditto a film I’ve rented dozens of times! Mainly, when I turn to streaming films, it’s because the work is out of print, and unlikely to come back into print for one small woman with odd tastes. All right, and I’ve got to be that desperate because I’m clueless about the technology. I think box sets of series have risen to ridiculous prices–what, so everyone gets more than a penny in royalties? Don’t kid yourselves about royalties, o creators of content. I seem to recall the Writer’s Guild striking over that miserable situation. “Average salary” statistics are also a joke; you have to punch through a lot of obstacles to achieve a living wage. Hope you get noticed by the right person; hope you’re working on a project that gets greenlit; hope your project stays afloat or, hell, makes any money at all. I’d be out there writing if I felt I had any realistic chance of employment. The market’s flooded with actors, writers, and would-be directors, and most of what we consume comes from the same pool of “talent”. The little names at the bottom of your TV screen? They almost don’t count, because it’s the names you see again and again that get paid more than peanuts.
Anyone who goes into the entertainment industry solely for the love of her art needs a reality check. Or a trust fund.
So instead of legislating in favor of the same fat cats getting paid even more than they make now, why don’t we diversify a bit? Encourage a broader market? Create real competition?
Because the fat cats can, apparently, buy our Congress. Let’s hope they can’t buy our President as well.
* in actual fact, I use one of those giant lighters for my candles. I’m terribly clumsy with matches.
** Though I don’t see why a manufacturer of jeans would care.
*** Dear Mexico: will you just take them back? But leave us Austin; it’s cool.