Opinion

Felix Salmon

Do any real people support SOPA?

By Felix Salmon
December 15, 2011

Very few of us live in a world remotely representative of the nation as a whole; I certainly don’t. How many of my friends and acquaintances have a college degree? How many live in dense urban centers? How many have smartphones? How many have ever voted Republican? In all these respects and many more, the world I see is incredibly skewed. But what about the Stop Online Piracy Act?

I spent last night with a fascinating group of Silicon Valley geeks, talking Bitcoin; among them was Dan Kaminsky, who’s spending most of his time these days lobbying hard against SOPA. And it occurred to me, as we talked very briefly about how the lobbying effort was going, how very lopsided my view of SOPA is.

Everybody I know, and everything I’ve come across on the internet, falls into one of two categories: either they’re vehemently opposed to SOPA, or else they simply don’t know about it. Racking my brain for any counterexamples, the only one I can come up with is a pre-roll ad which I’ve seen before a couple of my videos here on Reuters.com, which complains about pharmaceutical counterfeiting.

In one sense, this is entirely natural: I’m a journalist, and journalists by their nature hate anything which smacks of censorship. On the other hand, I’m also a media professional, and the pro-SOPA lobby is led by media companies of various descriptions. I just don’t know anybody who’s part of it.

Yet the bill is very much alive, and it seems that if a bill makes it to Barack Obama’s desk, he’ll sign it.

Today, in his big NYT piece about the war being fought in Washington, Edward Wyatt is careful to be symmetrical in his descriptions, and talks about how “the howls of protest” against SOPA “have been loud and lavishly financed” by Silicon Valley — it’s one of those articles based on the idea of explaining that there’s a disagreement, without bothering to try to adjudicate whether one side makes vastly more sense than the other.

You don’t need me to tell you that SOPA is an incredibly bad idea — others can do so much, much better than I can. But here’s where I have a genuine question. I know that the MPAA and the RIAA are lobbying hard for SOPA. (As well as, oddly, the AFL-CIO.) They seem to have a lot of politicians on their side. I can also point to an almost unlimited list of people and organizations who are lobbying equally hard against it — although it’s harder to find die-hard opponents of the bill in Congress.

But does SOPA actually have any popular support? Are there any real outside-the-beltway people who think it’s a good idea? If so, where are they? And if not, how did Congress become so bad at reflecting popular opinion?

I guess what I’m asking here is whether the strength of support for SOPA in Washington is an example of the failure of democracy, or whether it’s just another case of a bitterly divided country. I suspect it’s the former, but I really would be interested in finding out about anybody who doesn’t share my views on this subject.

Update: I’m told that Creative America is a grassroots organization of real people who support SOPA. I’m not entirely sure I believe it, though.

Comments
96 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

I am a real person that supports SOPA. I am a musician and artist. Intellectual property represents the hard work of many people and it deserves to be respected and protected against theft just like the results of anyone else’s day at work.

I do not appreciate the flakey rationalizations and cheap distortions that usually accompany this issue. I am not a corporation and this is not a corporate vs individual right issue. Everyone that creates an original work subject to IP protection under existing law is an individual. If you might ever create something of value that you might wish to place on the marketplace, SOPA protects you too.

Enforcing copyright law is not censorship. You have to say something yourself to be censored. It’s the rights of the people whose work is being disrespected who are being abused, not the people that are doing the disrespecting. Obviously.

Posted by mintmilano | Report as abusive
 

EconomistDuNort, and even a flawed pay model like iTunes and Kindle proves you wrong.

If i buy a dvd, I am limited to what region i can play it in – so i bought a load of DVDs in the UK move to Japan then suddenly I can view a local dvd exactly 5 times before i have to throw away my old dvds. If i want to have a hard drive version so i don’t have to lug around 20 discs every time i travel then i can’t do that with the original dvd. On top of that I have to watch ads on why i shouldn’t steal dvds if i have a legit dvd. None of this is an issue with downloaded movies or dvds with the DRM hacked. So not only are you asking me to pay well over the odds to buy content but you are also asking me to massive inconvience myself too. Ditto music, ditto software.

k9quaint, this guy/girl pops up whenever this topic appears. Apparently anyone who doesn’t want to pay for the privilege of being treated like a criminal by his vendor and doesn’t like having to jump through hoops to watch content he has already paid for is a thief and personally stealing money out of his/her pocket. Even the advertorial he/she linked to puts a figure of less than 24% of the global traffic being IP infringing, in the US it is less than 18%. Not quite 95% of content being stolen that was originally claimed.

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive
 

I am a real person. I develop cloud application on the Internet. I also worked for 8 years as a network engineer. Before all that I fought for the US in a war. I can tell you as a network engineer and a veteran of the Armed Forces I question why I risked my life for a country which thinks the entertainment industry is more important that freedom of speech.

As a programmer and network engineer I can also tell you the bill will accomplish very little in terms of fighting piracy. I am sorry to see musicians, producers and publishers dup-ed into thinking it will Unfortunately their ignorance is our loss of freedom.

Thank you… And what have you done for this country??

Posted by Samcomments | Report as abusive
 

NetworkAdmin:

I have followed your replies all the way through this thread, and have to commend your efforts, even while being personally attacked. I too am a network admin, and have found myself in similar debates. The unfortunate thing here is, no matter how descriptive we try to be – a non “techie” will never understand the true complexity of the “Internet”.

Everyone knows Pirating is wrong, and should be stopped. But as NetworkAdmin has stated several times, not a single internet engineer was involved with this bill. A solution is out there, but it’s not SOPA.

Bring in the people who’s hard work makes the Internet even possible. It’s not a good idea to change the backbone in such a drastic way – Changes take decades to be adopted, and it doesn’t take a lot of common sense to understand why. The “Internet” is not a single entity – It’s a Network of billions of servers. You cant just flip a switch and say, “Do it this way, and now.”

Posted by Fraz0r | Report as abusive
 

EconmistDuNort:

“Only 5% of music is paid for. 95% is stolen.”

I’d like to know where exactly that statistic came from.

I do not support pirating in anyway and do not have a hard drive that “is full of stolen material.” Or one that has anything that has been pirated at all. I do understand the tech side of this legislation which you obviously do not despite numerous attempts to make it seem as if you do.

And it doesn’t seem as if you fully understand these bills. For instance, if you’re site is shut down, which it can be without notification or without you getting a chance to defend it at all, you have to file for a counter notification. This means your site could be down weeks or months, not just hours. Imagine what that can do to a business, especially a small/local business!

Also (and mintmilano, this is for you, too), it doesn’t just give them the right to pull down sites that allow illegal downloads. It also allows them to pull down sites that even appear to support copyright infringement in anyway, shape or form. For instance, this website could be taken down because its users are posting on the site in opposition to SOPA & PIPA which they can take as support of copyright infringement. The creator of the site doesn’t even have to do anything to support it, their site can be shut down just for not deleting comments quickly enough! The specifics of these laws are way to broad allowing for an abuse of power that is sure to happen.

The needs of the few do NOT out weigh the needs (and the rights) of the many. I have a first amendment right to express my opinion whether you want to hear it or not. You are right in that we shouldn’t just let people illegally download because they’re going to do it anyway. However, this is NOT the way to do it.

You need to make sure you 100% understand what it is that you’re supporting!

Posted by alley81 | Report as abusive
 

SOPA will be to IP rights what the TSA is to homeland security.

Posted by ottnott | Report as abusive
 

Also, to the person that fought for the country:
…And?

Posted by AndrewSee | Report as abusive
 

The best case for SOPA is very easy to make: The entertainment, software and publishing industries spend huge amounts of money on lobbyists and campaign contributions. The entertainment, software and publishing industries want SOPA and can reallocate their expenditures on on lobbyists and campaign contributions based on the degree of support individual elected representatives are giving to SOPA. Most voters don’t understand enough about the process to realize that their elected representatives’ votes are being bought and paid for, and the extra campaign money practically guarantees reelection. How can you go wrong with a proposition like that?

Posted by Bob9999 | Report as abusive
 

I am a web developer and freelance writer. Believe me, I have sent out my fair share of DMCA letters over the past several years. However, SOPA is ill conceived and will do more harm than good. How many of the law makers currently debating this bill have the technical experience to understand what they are debating? I would bet the farm that very few do. Also, this bill has had a frightening lack of input from technical experts. The fact that most professionals who work with this technology on a day to day basis are against the bill should be concerning to every internet user. Do we need to stop piracy? Yes. However, there are far better ways to accomplish this task. Why is there such a rush with this bill? Where is the input from the technical experts? The internet and technological innovation will be the economic engine of the future. This bill is like draining the oil out of that engine. To stop piracy and protect creative rights, Congress must create a bill by working in unison with the same engineers and technical experts that have created the internet and continue to develop it. Otherwise, the economic situation in this country will continue to deteriorate…but, more importantly, the freedoms that make this country so special will be cast aside in a futile attempt to protect a handful of industries at the expense of the entire population.

Posted by sixalarm | Report as abusive
 

It used to be hugely expensive to make a book and get it in the hands of a consumer. The equipment to print the book, the distribution channel to get the book to the store and the bricks and mortar stores to hold vast quantities of books were all necessary to make the model work. Because of the huge investment involved, spending on marketing was also hugely important to realize the most out of the sunk capital costs.

Now the internet comes around. We don’t need bricks and mortar stores. We don’t need trucks to carry the bits & bytes. We don’t need printing presses make the bits & bytes. Don’t need a publisher to market it since a viral spread through the social networking sites is the preferred method of transmission anyway. So almost all of the capital costs of producing a book have been removed, yet somehow, magically, the price of an ebook is roughly the same as the price of a real book. It wasn’t until the price of music reflected the ease with which it can be distributed that the online music industry took off in the form of iTunes. It formed the killer app for Apple which is now the second largest public company in the US. The books publishing industry also ceded this power to Amazon, and those publishers are similarly doomed. The movie guys see the writing on the wall and are already being pressured by players like Netflix & Redbox. So we have SOPA, a last gasp attempt to put the worms back in the can and extend the business model of “data about Mickey Mouse on plastic” for a few more years.

The content distributors are desperate. The second the creators realize they can direct market and direct sell (and get the lions share of the proceeds), the entire legacy content distribution scheme collapses. The media distributors *have* to strangle internet distribution and they will never ever give up trying because the alternative is their demise.

Posted by k9quaint | Report as abusive
 

The people who support SOPA are the selfish people who think that just because they create something the world has to conform to their creation.

That simply is not how this country, no, the world works. Society evolves and if you don’t evolve with it, you will fall behind. Those who fall behind are the ones who support SOPA.

With the evolution of the internet, creative properties has hit a rough patch. However, because the internet is widely accepted by much of the world, the opinions of one creative mind who supports SOPA does not deserve the same recognition as the vast majority that is everyone else.

The world has evolved, you have not. If you wish to continue making creative properties, then I wish you the best of luck. But you need to update your business models and how you reveal your creations to the public.

Turning America even more Socialist than it already is just because some people don’t know how to market their properties correctly is not fair to the rest of the country who DOESN’T rely on creative properties.

Don’t set America on fire because you’re too selfish to take responsibility for your creations. Down with SOPA and down with Protect IP. If you disagree, then I strongly urge you to get out of this country and move to China; you would probably be much happier there anyway.

Posted by R315r4z0r | Report as abusive
 

SOPA is unconstitutional – it eliminates due process, and allows private corporations to be judge, jury, and executioner, when they decide their copyrights have been infringed.

While it is unfair that people steal from other people, it is even more unfair that a lot more people will lose their rights in the name of protecting the infringed.

SOPA will do very little to stop piracy, and will transfer an abusive power to businesses that have no business possessing that power.

Posted by KenG_CA | Report as abusive
 

In addition to being a retired SW engineer, I am a musician. I would like to be able to earn money from my work,just like anyone else. I refuse to take offers of a “free” copy of works of art because I want to support the arts community. I buy DVDs, and sometime the accompanying sheet music books. The total investment is between 30 and 60 dollars per DVD in this case. Even after that much investment in artists’ works, I often cannot perform because RIAA, or somesuch well-meaning but ill-acting body threatens to sue my potential employers for not paying THEM.
I evangelize against piracy

… but as far as SOPA is concerned I ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT SUPPORT THIS SHORT-SIGHTED APPROACH. There is a better way, but we will never see it while such draconian measure are in effect.

95% pirated? Oh, give me a break. I’m not as stupid as I look.

Posted by commonManBob | Report as abusive
 

I’m not exactly a “regular” person in that I work for an entertainment industry union (I’m speaking as an individual here though), and I am pretty ambivalent at best about SOPA. Content theft (“piracy” overly romanticizes it) has most definitely affected our rank and file members’ earnings, people who need that money to pay their bills, and I believe it needs to be dealt with far more firmly and effectively than it has. However, I’m not entirely sold that SOPA, regardless of its effectiveness, is the way to go about it, even with the amendment taking the DNS language out.

I think in the long run, it’s going to make more sense for the producers to more aggressively adapt to a market where, frankly, theft (as the economic model currently stands) is far too easy and rampant to ever truly control without risk of over-reach. Maybe we will see more private and government subsidies of work than we have now, but I believe it’s more likely going to commercialize work in a way that will be almost unrecognizable. Something will have to happen though because creation costs.

All that said, the hyperbole around this has been absolutely ridiculous. I’m really sick of this being posited as simply “free spirits and thinkers of the internet Age of Aquarius” versus Hollywood Corporate Overlords and government jackboots. Big Tech is absolutely real, they’ve made billions off the trafficking of content of others, and they absolutely stand to lose profits once it gets reined in. Of course they’re throwing around words like “censorship,” much less wailings like this will “destroy expression” and “set America on fire.” I hope all of the rabid /b/ros out there blustering about this realize they’re really ultimately doing it in the service of corporate overlords and middlemen on the other side of the coin.

Posted by Barrymore | Report as abusive
 

This is a BAD idea. A review of the organizations behind this “railroad train” confirm it’s adoption will NOT be good for “we, the people”.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

I’m a software engineer and 100% of my salary for decades has come from people paying for the copyrighted intellectual property I made. I get why copyrights need to be enforced.

But as someone who has seen DMCA takedown notices used more for evil than for good, it’s clear to me that the SOPA is the wrong way of going about enforcing copyright.

DMCA, the current stupid law, only allows people to take down a particular infringing piece of speech (file, text, etc). But the SOPA allows taking down the whole website for a single infringement.

Does anyone think that googlegroups.com, facebook.com, or yahoogroups.com should be shut down completely if someone posts infringing material on those sites? If so please raise your hand.

Posted by rolamis | Report as abusive
 

AndrewSee, on what basis do you accuse 75% of your mother’s customers of being criminals?

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive
 

Property is property, whether it is a car, a patented process or a idea, and should be protected by the law…hey Salmon, here is your real person that supports the lawmakers protecting the rights of the creative class to profit from their labor…

Posted by D.D.T.KOOL-AID | Report as abusive
 

D.D.T.KOOL-AID, by creative class you presumably mean the cokeheads who work in record companies?

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive
 

Barrymore, what profits do “Big Tech” stand to lose once all that pirated content magically disappears? Care to quantify how much, say, Google will lose?

There are plenty of models for creative content distribution. The reason the record companies and film studios don’t like it is because almost certainly they are not goig to be part of it in their current form. If someone has genuinely useful content then the vast majority of people will pay for it.

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive
 

I oppose SOPA. Information and knowledge should be free and dissimenated

Posted by tombvortx | Report as abusive
 

I oppose SOPA. Information and knowledge should be free and disseminated.

Posted by tombvortx | Report as abusive
 

EconomistDuNort said:

“NetworkAdmin wrote: (a whole long lecture on internet tech)”

This is a huge problem and is how the majority of congress is dealing with tech talk. You can’t just ignore it because it proves you wrong…

And this:
“Wow, did you think up that brilliant statement up all by yourself?!
Truly an intellect like yours is a rare thing.”

Kids say things like that, grow up

Posted by throwaway51230 | Report as abusive
 

Yeah, I like the convenience of downloading stuff that I simply can’t afford. The other day I needed a copy of Mathematica, so — poof! — I grabbed versions of Mathematica 8.0 for Windows and OS X from one of the bit torrent sites. It’s that easy. Broadband paid for itself yet again.

My 14 year old son spends all his free time looking at porn on the Internet (that’s when I’m being respectful of his unconstrained right to to surf the Internet without constraint). There is no safe version of safe search.

The business model of the Internet is built on theft of intellectual property, distribution of pornography, and anonymous defamation.

It’s become tiresome. Somebody needs to be held responsible and I think Google and the ISPs are a good place to start.

Posted by xyz70 | Report as abusive
 

The U.S.Chamber of Commerce, AARP, Major Media, and a vast demographic addressed by shils like Robert Wagner’s in his appearance for “reverse mortgages” has a listener in Congress. They hear foreign, rogue, copyright theft, and Internet in one sentence and it sounds bad. It sounds evil. Stomping that out sounds like a good thing to do so we can restore the American Way and slow down the bewildering global network. That’s what Congress does. Someone said they don’t know the complexity of it all, that they might break it. Well, I am glad they don’t “know” it. The Internet was never intended to be the one-and-only neural network for everyone and everything. It is a cobbled-together mess. Along came e-commerce, then media, and engineers have coded, routed, open-sourced, standards-ized, and creatively built a more capable cobbled-up version. Someone said “they can’t just say stop!” (because it’s really just millions of individual servers – ghost or real). The CONGRESS won’t do that. Even Ronald Reagan, at his best, would not have said such a thing.
Relax. The Internet, ideally, would self-regulate and content creators would be certain of receiving their payment. Something needs to be done. If not now when? After China’s 400 or 500 million finally get online as they build out? This debate is like what happened in the 1800′s when English copyrights were ignored and were printed onshore here. Now we have the Library of Congress. They have a copyrighted issue of What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis. Not a bad thing.

Posted by twocreeks | Report as abusive
 

I am an artist and Musician. I have wholeheartedly fought against SOPA, PIPA, and the DMCA. We need a better system that bases itself more within the market structures of the net, as opposed to forcing the brick and mortar systems onto the internet consumer.

also, the clarity of the bill, or many bills for that matter. Succinct and transparent law would be pleasant.

Posted by atomdari | Report as abusive
 

Congress has not been reflecting public opinion for some time no. One example, the Clinton impeachment which was wildly unpopular. Or, to move into your domain, the tax debate. It comes as a surprise that this is a surprise to you.

Posted by SaulTann | Report as abusive
 

I’m a real person, I’m very much against piracy, and I’m a web developer.

I’m against SOPA for a few reasons:
1. It’s not going to stop piracy. To think that it can is naive; it’s too big a problem. We never stopped people from making mix-tapes in the 80s/90s; they stopped because something better came along. The internet is far too big to police in this way, and it’s going to cost MORE to stop people from pirating things than anyone is loosing on pirated content in the first place.

2. It’s not going to hurt the major pirates. They have the resources and the man power to put up content and move content faster than anyone can play whack-a-mole on it. It’s going to hurt little start-up companies who are doing their best on a shoe-string budget and can’t afford to fight a court battle when they aren’t quick enough at removing content that was user-generated, even if they have the best intentions. Most of those major silicon valley companies started out as a couple of guys with a cool idea.

Posted by rainedragon | Report as abusive
 

“Care to quantify how much, say, Google will lose?”

Google, which owns YouTube, which looks the other way on millions of hours of copyrighted material on its website that it sells advertising for? Presumably a sizable amount.

Of course, I’m sure Sergey Brin is against SOPA merely because he is against “censorship,” though.

Posted by Barrymore | Report as abusive
 

Re: “Creative America”.

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/mike-nugent  /0/226/321

With an executive director with that background, does that look like real sod?

Posted by MaysonLancaster | Report as abusive
 

The media industry is acting like the internet is the problem. BWAHAHAHA. Seriously, what happened with vhs? Cassette? CD? DVD? Don’t need the internet to pirate.

VHS, record right off the tv or borrow a movie from a friend.

Cassette meets radio.

CD meet computer with burning software. (borrow musician’s hard work)

DVD meet computer with burning software. (borrow movie)

No internets or tubes needed to do the above.

See what I did there? Piracy doesn’t end with censoring the internet. It ends when the archaic format for distribution evolves to meet the consumer(The people you are trying to screw over.)

Sure, censor the net and you have all your profits back…(sarcasm) Good job big media!

Posted by Jimnay | Report as abusive
 

Barrymore, so just to translate your response “I have no idea but I will insist it is a non-trivial amount despite the fact that youtube hardly contributes to Google’s bottom line”. Weird how when pushed how little real data advocates have but how they are absolutely adamant that priracy – as opposed to a model solely designed to screw the customer and crappy content – is the real cause of the decline in earnings

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive
 

The problem with SOPA deals with the fact that the ones who wrote the bill really do not know what they are talking about. This bill, if passed will censor US owned IP addresses, not just IP addresses owned in the US. This may seem like a small oversight, but in the layman’s terms this means that the censorship will also be put in place in Canada. The bill is full of oversights like this. I support copyrights, but this bill is not the way to protect them. Not by a long shot.

Posted by astrojz | Report as abusive
 

I’m a “regular person” and I support SOPA.

What is entirely missing from the anti-SOPA crowd is an intelligent conversation, or even inkling regarding how completely useless copyright laws are. They simple cannot be used to defend a copyright holder’s rights. Sure you can point to this or that antiquated copyright law, and say you have some legal recourse, but the reality is that in the digital economy there is absolutely no way that a copyright holder can enforce their rights, even if they are willing to go bankrupt to do so.

I see SOPA as a reaction to the reality that copyright laws simply offer no real protection. I did not realize this until a friend; a small time artist found that her private, unreleased work had been pirated without her permission. She turned to me, an attorney for help, and although I was hesitant and had no experience dealing with such issues, I agreed to volunteer my time for her. What ensued was a nightmare.

In order to discover who it was that pirated her work, we had to contact dozens of web hosts, subpoena dozens of entities, contact law enforcement (which is not willing to assist in any civil matters, especially for individuals), attempt to file in several states, etc. The vast majority refused to cooperate. Then we discovered that her work was uploaded to dozens and dozens of pirate sites. I am not talking about sites which are simple forums for art work or discussion; I am talking about sites which exist solely to pirate digital files. We discovered that pirates were copying files, uploading them to web lockers, and getting PAID for the amount of downloads they got: a veritable underground black market where pirated goods were traded for profit.

What began as a search for one culprit ended up being a lesson in how she as a copyright holder, had no real rights at all. The actual cost for trying to file ONE suit against an individual is multiplied thousands and thousands of times over on the internet, to the point where a copyright holder has no real enforceable rights. Discovering that your work is now being pirated overseas, means that you can kiss your rights goodbye. After exhausting a chunk of money, and burning through some of my good will, my friend simply decided to stop.

Having seed how my friend’s work was pirated, how dozens of sites hosted her work, how such sites exist solely to pirate, and how pirates profit, I can see where the backers of SOPA are coming from. For my friend, this has meant the stuff she had been working on for years went down the drain, and such a sense of frustration that she has decided to call it quits. For small copyright holders, there is no day in court, no vindication of one’s rights, no holding anyone to account. Given that major companies, with millions in profits cannot even control their copyrights, what makes anyone think that the little guy has a chance of protecting their works?

This perspective, that of the copyright holder, and how utterly inadequate current laws are, is entirely missing from the anti-SOPA crowd.

Posted by JWal9 | Report as abusive
 

I, blogger Michael Crook, support SOPA:

http://blog.michael-crook.com/2011/12/so pa-is-good-for-america.html

Posted by michaelcrook | Report as abusive
 

I Support SOPA
the entire thing just seems strange.
http://tagzme.com/blog/view/599/i-suppor t-the-move-for-sopa

Posted by mrcoffee | Report as abusive
 

I must admit, as an artist who has seen his work reposted in the past by people claiming to be the original artist, I can understand why we need some form of copyright protection beyond the current laws in place. There’s no way the common artist could afford to pursue each issue of this happening, nor could anyone hope to stop pirating of their work once it’s begun.
Looking at SOPA though, I find myself thinking about how I got my start, by posting fan art of my favorite subjects on fansites, getting feedback from other artists and giving said feedback in turn. Yes, my work got posted beyond where I had originally intended, but in hindsight, I realize that the benefits I gained through my sense of community helped me to grow as an artist. Not only that, but the fansites I posted on exposed me to other series, artists, and so forth which I would never have seen or heard about otherwise. Many times, a good piece of fan art would lead to me purchasing the DVD set of a series, or the CDs of other musicians when I heard one of their works on a fansite.
Should SOPA go into effect, fan sites would be completely wiped off the face of the internet. Why? Because any artwork, images, music, scenes, quotes, or even the mere mention of the licensed work’s name would have the potential for the provider to consider it a violation of their copyright. It doesn’t stop there. Say you post a photo of your child on your Facebook page. No harm in that right? Wait, what’s on the child’s shirt? Is that a Disney character? Instant takedown and lock out of your Facebook account, and government agents will be there shortly to arrest you for copyright infringement because you forgot to pixel or airbrush out the picture of Mickey Mouse on you kid’s shirt. Also, you had a picture of yourself in Nike tennis shoes at a basketball game? Well, you can’t depict the Nike logo nor that official NBA basketball you all were playing with in your photos, so those two companies are now suing you for copyright infringement as well because you claimed your photographs were your own work and not givng them proper citation in your work. These seem like extreme cases, but why do you think that reality shows have to blur out commercial product logos on clothing and billboards in the background? Because these things are copyrighted, and the company could sue them for “representing their company in a way the company doesn’t wish to be represented.”
I wish I could talk more about the technical reasons why SOPA would be impossible to run without destroying the internet. My basic idea of how it would work would be to compare it to a search engine. Type in a work of a licensed item, such as “Wolverine.” This could refer to Wolverine boots, or it could refer to the character Wolverine from the X-Men published by Marvel Comics, or it could simply refer to the animal. Now, under SOPA, companies would have to do a general web search for that word. Do you think it would be feasible to send a “cease and desist” order to only those sites with images of the character or boot, and not the animal? Nope! Instead, any mention of the word “Wolverine” will lead to the instant take down of the offending website, barring legal action to prove the site did not have any copyright violation. This is essentially a case of “Guilty until proven innocent.” More so, you are responsible for any legal fees generated by the process of serving you with said notice, the legal fees of the potential copyright owner(s) you may have inconvenienced with the necessary investigation, and your own defense. Oh, and odds are you’ll be fined by the company hosting your site as well. (Which is probably why a certain webhost started out supporting it until it lost too many big name customers.) I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to pay Stephen King thousands of dollars and risk jail time for every time I use the word “It” in a sentence simply because it’s the copyrighted title of one of his book. (Used as an example due to the commonality of the word, not because I think Stephen King would sue everyone who ever used the word “It” in a sentence.) Keep in mind, this isn’t even getting into all the coding and programing that is in place with the internet, this is just the basic concept of how a search engine works to give an idea of the scope of the problem with SOPA.
Also keep in mind that many of the companies supporting this bill also have been trying to make it illegal to resell their product. Game companies have been putting in codes to prevent playing past certain levels or even preventing access to the game itself without connecting to the their server with the code tied to your account. Some music companies and motion pictures have codes to redeem to get access to special features. Now, if you were to post your used CD, DVD, or game up, they could claim it’s a violation of their copyright since they’re not getting paid from you reselling it, enabling them to force say, Amazon or Ebay’s service providers to shut the site down until they go through the legal litegation to prove that it’s a lawful transaction. How many times do you think these companies will go through the trouble of doing so before they simply shut their doors and lay off the thousands who work for them?
Lastly, the very products and brands that SOPA is trying to protect will be harmed because of these strict regulations. People won’t be willing to chat about their favorite things online for fear of legal action being taken against themselves. All those forums where people discuss films and music? Gone. All that free advertising and referrals? Also gone.
When you’re too afraid to say what you want to say because you know the Government and Big Business will ruin your life and possibly have you thrown in jail just for saying what you want to say, that is censorship. If this goes through, you won’t see me on the internet, as I’ll be too afraid of goosestepping brown shirted people coming to find me because I said I didn’t like a product or simply this act of denouncing SOPA before it goes into effect.

Posted by Mik88 | Report as abusive
 

Maybe if SOPA was explained in laymen terms I would no what the hell you all are talking about.

Posted by Tennie | Report as abusive
 

Maybe if SOPA was explained in laymen terms I would no what the hell you all are talking about.

Posted by Tennie | Report as abusive
 

Maybe if SOPA was explained in laymen terms I would no what the hell you all are talking about.

Posted by Tennie | Report as abusive
 

Get it?

Posted by Tennie | Report as abusive
 

I absolutely support SOPA and I am a real person. I have a relative who is a songwriter, and who is now going to abandon this profession. I know writers who have abandoned the idea of ever finishing that Great American Novel. What kind of world are we advocating when we don’t support our artists, our writers, our philosophers? Google and the other search engines are big bullies who are whining about creating methods that would protect piracy. It’s possible to do, but they would rather jump up and down and stomp their feet like toddlers. Sorry — doesn’t cut it with me. It’s time to protect our creative folks — not the big companies — the actual creators of the material: the songs, the books, the screen plays.

Posted by CaliLiz | Report as abusive
 

I am a composer, and I oppose SOPA.

Numerous studies have shown that piracy does not have a negative impact on sales.

Here’s one:
http://www.rieti.go.jp/en/publications/s ummary/11010021.html

The value of an artist is not in the works they create, but in their ability to generate said works. The consumer’s dollar is an investment in your next project. If you’re worried about someone stealing your ideas, keep them to yourself.

SOPA is an extreme and irresponsible response to what has been shown to be a minor problem.

Posted by ArtistAntiSOPA | Report as abusive
 

I am a composer, and I oppose SOPA.

Numerous studies have shown that piracy does not have a negative impact on sales.

Here’s one:
http://www.rieti.go.jp/en/publications/s ummary/11010021.html

The value of an artist is not in the works they create, but in their ability to generate said works. The consumer’s dollar is an investment in your next project. If you’re worried about someone stealing your ideas, keep them to yourself.

SOPA is an extreme and irresponsible response to what has been shown to be a minor problem.

Posted by ArtistAntiSOPA | Report as abusive
 

A response to ArtistsForSOPA:

Are you serious? Have you just NOT seen the 5 comments prior to yours which were made by self-proclaimed creators (network admins notwithstanding) who oppose this bill? I am an unknown (save by friends and family) piano/orchestra composer, I use Cubase 4 (purchased in full for 800$) and a rinkydink piano to create music. I have built over 30 original works. All of which aren’t bad, just not industry standard materials.
I oppose SOPA. Don’t you get it? My opposition (and that of many on this Board) has nothing to do with copyrights! Cut the hand off of the thief! It has to do with balance of power! This nation’s Court system is based and built upon the “tried and true” approach of ‘so-and-so vs. Nebraska 19XX’. We as a country use cases tried earlier to strengthen our interpretations of “conduct”. If this bill passes, there will be hundreds or thousands of court cases which will be nominated the precedents for future cases. New ideas and interpretations of “conduct” will be open for debate, with the courts (remember the lady that got off scott free for killing her kids) and presidential/congressional contributors set as the interpreters.
THAT is the problem, and THAT is exactly what you and the rumored thousands like you don’t quite understand. You just get swept away by the idea of a one-hit-KO on piracy, but its just not that simple.
Instead of spending tens of millions of dollars trying to shortcut the internet, why not invest a few million in new forms of digital medium? or better copy-wright enforcement programs? It can be done, but no one does.
Think about it.

Posted by Variations | Report as abusive
 

Just for a repost if anyone hasnt gotten it already :D
EC 17, 2011
10:33 PM EST
The media industry is acting like the internet is the problem. BWAHAHAHA. Seriously, what happened with vhs? Cassette? CD? DVD? Don’t need the internet to pirate.
VHS, record right off the tv or borrow a movie from a friend.
Cassette meets radio.
CD meet computer with burning software. (borrow musician’s hard work)
DVD meet computer with burning software. (borrow movie)
No internets or tubes needed to do the above.
See what I did there? Piracy doesn’t end with censoring the internet. It ends when the archaic format for distribution evolves to meet the consumer(The people you are trying to screw over.)
Sure, censor the net and you have all your profits back…(sarcasm) Good job big media!
Posted by Jimnay | Report as abusive

Jimnay whoever you are,
your a brilliant person. as he states clearly, its not about what the internet does or doesnt do,.. people will still find ways to pirate stuff. as for me i find means of finding ways either getting it for free or finding a alternative, for example… microsoft office, its pricy…. comparison? Openoffice.. same exact thing. just not so glamourous.. expensive high detailed 3d image maker…. close to $1000 right? comparison… blender3d…. warcraft 3…. comparison.. = glest!!!

Posted by mike32547 | Report as abusive
 

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