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Stopping SOPA and PIPA

If you are unfamiliar with the bills coming up for vote soon, SOPA and PIPA, then check out this blog post over at WordPress, which also contains an excellent video describing the situation.

SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and PIPA, the Protect-IP Act, have fairly innocent motivations, or at least they appear to. On the surface, it looks like any number of other bills introduced to stop people from pirating movies and downloading illegally obtained, copyrighted material from the Internet.

The problem isn’t the motivation, the problem is the implementation. Hollywood is pissed that people are downloading their stuff for free and that money isn’t going into their hands. Of course, Hollywood isn’t looking at the numbers showing people still paying for their crap just like always. Remember, Hollywood also tried to ban the sale of VCRs before they realized they could make bucketloads of cash on VHS sales.

Saying that the US needs to be able to filter and censor the Internet in order to stop online piracy is like the local police force banning crowbars because they are occasionally chosen by criminals as a way to break into someone’s house.

The implementation of this legislation is in the hands of people who are out of touch with the group of people who would be harmed by this legislation. The wording is loose, ambiguous, and open to interpretation by people who are not technologists, which means it might start out accomplishing its goal but can quickly be morphed into something far worse.

If the entertainment industry is pissed off that people are pirating their music because DRM implementations suck, then it is the entertainment industry’s job to innovate their way into the 21st century and find a way to engage customers through the Internet and many, many companies are doing that now (look at how many people gladly shell out monthly subscriptions to Hulu and Netflix for streaming content). The entertainment industry, who contributes very little to the overall economy – especially over the Internet – has no business getting the government to censor the Internet.

I don’t normally do politics on this blog and when I do, I generally stay on the fence but I feel very strongly that SOPA and PIPA, if passed, will quickly grow to do far more harm than good.

So, follow the link at the bottom of that WordPress article, figure out who you need to call or e-mail and make your voice heard. These people work for us not the other way around, make them do their jobs and vote the way their constituents want them to.