Today is the big Go Dark Against SOPA/PIPA day, and every corner of the internet is up in arms about this huge, corporate-sponsored mess. Me included.
Internet Piracy is a bad thing and I’m against it. But I’m also against corporations demanding that the Federal government write new laws for them to conduct their business. Don’t let the “Internet Piracy” thing fool you. Because while they are saying that these new laws would be just great to stop people from ripping off movies, what they are really doing is remaking the Internet from the ground up. If you don’t think for one minute that corporations will use SOPA/PIPA to turn the Web into a giant shopping mall then you don’t see the pattern in front of you. If these bills pass it gives corporations the right to shut down any web site that might possibly be using copyrighted material without permission. So Facebook with all the jokey pictures of Twilight–gone. Blogs that use pictures of book covers in writing book reviews–gone. In fact, anybody who reviews anything might be in danger of being shut down by SLAPP==Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. How’d you like to lose your entire blog–all your copyrighted material, all your personal branding, all your web presence–just because you angered a company with a lot of attorneys on retainer?
I have no problem with companies going after thieves who use the internet to steal. (More on that tomorrow, I hope.) But I do think that like everyone else these corporations should have to hire attorneys, sue in the court system and obtain a judgment. I don’t think it’s fair that they should be able to look at a site’s bandwidth traffic and say “we think they MIGHT be stealing from us, Comcast, so turn off their account.” Those corporations will tell you that this new law is necessary because they can’t get favourable judgments in China. Surely, however, I am not alone in noticing that these large companies have no qualms about taking three hundred miles for every inch of leeway they’re given.
* The full text of the SOPA bill is here.