And by that, I mean what makes the corporate hell hole different from that which we live in today?
I’ll explain upfront that I’m a radical “Information wants to be free” activist. Today, you can be sued or thrown in jail for sharing ones and zeros. Ironically, sharing was at the basis of our society long ago. We would not be where we are today if we hadn’t shared our knowledge of building a stable stucco home, hunting, running an economy, curing diseases, understanding math and laying down logic, mass-producing our modern cars, air conditioning units, refrigerators, microprocessors, and so on with a friend or relative. We set up an entire network for global communication at one point, the Internet, and we blew it.
The Kopimist Appeal
Information used to be sacred to people other than today’s Kopimists. Imagine if all information you have ever read came at a cost too steep for anyone but the ultra-rich. Even worse, but so likely to happen it already does and shapes your life, what if the cost does not justify the reasoning? Why pay twenty dollars for a CD when its manufacture costs twenty cents?
The answer lies in our blind belief that the author of the numbers sitting on the disc deserves special compensation for his efforts, despite the obvious lack of a divine supernatural power causing the author to take on a loss whenever somebody reads back those numbers.
My radical appeal is, if the Research & Design of a given set of numbers costs $10,000, let the public fund it, at which point when the funds have been raised, the final work can be proudly published by the author under a free software license.
The reader then has the most pressing question at this point: “What happens to the motivation?”
It’s true the majority of medical researchers would not be in the field if they were offered vacation for the rest of their lives. But things which are important must be funded by the government. If the entertainment industry offered every medical research center this offer, would the government care that a $10 drug drives up to $1500? (Hint: they don’t right now!)
And speaking of the entertainment industry, what happens to their motivation? I guess they’ll all drop out. Most of them. A few handful, who only really wish to make movies because they truly want to, will do what it takes to gather the funds to make a pretty decent, but eye-opening movie. If the public wants to see it, they’ll fund it. If they don’t fund it, they won’t get to see it, because it’s physically impossible for it to happen. Easy!
And that’s my entire manifest in a nutshell.
SOPA: DMCA 1.0.1
Back to the subject of SOPA. What makes it so bad, as portrayed by Reddit, Google, Facebook, the EFF, and just basically the whole Internet consensus?
“American-Censorship-dot-org”; “This is the Internet we’re talking about”; “All the websites you go to can be shut down”; “Everyone is protesting so you should too”
The message is one and loud: SOPA is about to break the Internet because the government sucks.
Nobody can deny that the US government is shaped heavily by corporations and rarely ever takes democratic opinion these days, leading to the public backlash when the president passes more military spending, NDAA 2012, etc. But earlier in my post, I explained that the state of communication in every developed country is already broken to some odd eyes.
Let’s analyze what SOPA offers to the table:
- Any website which either shares “unauthorized” information, points to a separately responsible good fellow willing to share this information, or explains where one can find this information himself, is an infringing website. Note that this provision is already defined by the DMCA.
- The domain name of any infringing website may be added to a country-wide blacklist, which all US-based ISPs are legally ordered to follow.
- As a result, the country has like totally converted to the system used in “China, Iran, and Syria”!
- Note that communication with the IP address itself has not been blocked. Also, you can expect plenty of mirrors, possibly even peer-to-peer.
- Any website which points to an infringing website is itself infringing. (Whoops, DMCA!)
- As a result, US-bound search engines and ad networks are forced to remove the links to stay in legal compliance.
- Any website which explains how to circumvent an arbitrarily imposed restriction is infringing. (Whoops, DMCA!)
- Recording yourself singing a pop song (this example has been cited over, and over, and over again) is illegal (Whoops, DMCA!)
- Criminal prosecution — that’s new
Bullet 1: The DMCA, which has been active for twelve years now, has made it clear that all of these points are in violation of the law (in the US)
Bullet 2: Tor. Mirrors. Many will argue this process reduces security in domain name propagation. Not if you map 0.0.0.0 as the ‘blocked’ IP address; then any conflicts between name servers can be settled without raising a hair.
Bullet 3: This one gets me going. If you go to Google and type in “Windows 7 Loader”, “Bieber torrent”, “metallica torrent”, you will find a cascade of “In response to a complaint we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed X result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint that caused the removal(s) at ChillingEffects.org” at the bottom of the page.
The DMCA includes a “safe harbor” provision, which guarantees that a web publisher or search engine is legally sound if and only if they immediately take down infringing links when ordered by the copyright owner. That itself is censorship. Don’t believe me? Boy, do Isohunt and Mininova have a story to tell.
Bullet 4: Merely explaining how to copy a DVD in US territory is officially illegal thanks in full to none other than the DMCA.
Bullet 5: Criminal prosecution is new. That and the domain name blocking are the only things that are new. But if you can get sued for millions of dollars for sharing ones and zeros (as in many cases), isn’t our system already screwed up as it is now? And if somebody does end up in jail for just casually being involved with his own taste in music, written by a gigantic sue-hungry faggot, he got what was coming to him.
With these points, SOPA is effectively DMCA version 1.0.1. Any law which aims to thwart piracy is aiming to thwart our freedom to discover for ourselves and do the right thing. And give the wealthy fatter paychecks.
Fighting against SOPA won’t do us any good. Please focus on giving IMMI foundational support instead. Thanks!