I don't usually get political on this site, but...

12/14/2011 05:11:00 PM

LaurenLCD

This message is all too important for the sake of the internet. If you're like me, you no doubt enjoy using social media sites, video, music, and image hosting sites, as well as being able to stay on top of the news without going through corrupt news stations paid by the government. You probably even like web hosted shows that you can't get on television. Shows that may contain commentary/reviews on music, movies, games, and any copyrighted content. Well, we here in America have a problem that is urgent and will threaten us: the average internet users who enjoy watching and creating these shows for entertainment purposes. This will not only affect us in the United States. The entire online community will be rocked by this issue, if it's not addressed and not stopped.

Today is the last day before Congress decides to pass the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) Bill. This Bill is bipartisan, meaning Democrats and Republicans want to pass this as law. This law was brought to light by Hollywood: the entertainment industry themselves. Let's keep in mind that this is the same industry that has for years been trying to halt innovation and hold fast to outdated business models. They claimed that television, VCRs, DVDs, cassettes, CDs, mp3 players... anything that could be bought and used by the average, everyday man would destroy their industries (music, movies, games). Well, their latest target is the internet: Pirates to be exact.

What is a pirate? Anyone who hosts and posts software for free when it was originally meant to be purchased in a hardware format. Music, movies, and a lot of the programs that we use on our computers were all originally on hardware of some sort, usually DVD or CD. The SOPA Bill wishes to target websites that we use every day that may contain copyrighted material. If you've ever received a message from youtube stating that you have copyrighted material from company XYZ, and the next day, that video disappears (or your account!), then you should understand that is bill is like that on a larger scale. Your account won't just be terminated: the entire site will go off the Domain Name Server list. The site (and/or you) will be charged with a felony of copyright infringement and you will be guilty without due process of a trial. If those of you outside the US thinks this doesn't affect you: many sites' servers are based in the US. If the site's server disappears here: you lose the site too.

You may say: "I'm not a pirate! I'm not even making money off of what I do!" Hollywood doesn't care. They see it as you giving away their contents for free. You're a singer and you cover your favorite song? You might as well be selling bootleg copies for your own profit as far as they're concerned. Even if you don't get paid for what you're doing, it's all the same to Hollywood. This bill will not stop the real problem: people putting copyrighted content out there for the world to grab. When you take down one site, there will always be a hundred or a thousand more who will replace it. There will always be piracy because the quality of music, movies, and video games has become so poor, that it's not worth paying money for something that will in the end: disappoint. Then there's the issue of globalism.

The world is global. If people in one country want to watch a show from another country, they don't want to wait 3 seasons after the show has already started. They don't have immediate access like the country of origin and they have to deal with region coding, payment, and shipping costs, as well as additional taxes that make the software held inside the DVD/CD triple the price in addition to the risks involved in shipment (things get broken or defective).

We understand (I'm sure even some pirates understand) that the makers of the content should have the right to monetary compensation. The problem is in -once again- outdated methods. Embracing technological innovation will only help the entertainment industry. Targeting sites left and right, compromising the security of the internet, depriving people of an honest living or means of entertainment is not the way to get people to be honest and buy the product. The way to get more people to buy copyrighted material is giving them ease of access in a way that will benefit the company. Ditch the large cinemas and have online theatres. Make all music available and affordable in a digital format from WAV and FLAC for the audiophiles to mp3 and WMA for the average iPod owner. SOPA will hurt more than it helps and will in the end, not benefit anyone. This Bill will further impede upon our right to Free Speech which has already been compromised with the USA Patriot Act, it will halt any further technological growth, and it will cost jobs in an economy already financially unstable. If you want to help stop this, visit Stop American Censorship. Americans, call your representatives and Congress; internationals may email. You have no restriction to how many times you can email or call. Don't not act thinking that this Bill is too unconstitutional to be passed. The Patriot Act is unconstitutional and yet, it just received a 4 year extension. It is by our inaction and passivity that the government can and will do any and everything to give the police, CIA, FBI, corporations, political and religious extremists, and the richest 1% of the country total control over all of our lives. Do not let them gain more control with the passing of this Bill. If we want change and we want things to improve, we have to fight for it.

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