I read enough about SOPA to feel dirty for a week. The biggest players of the internet and entertainment industry are battling out to see if Congress can either get them more money or take away their monopolistic control. I have been intrigued. All through work, I heard people debate whether they want their internet changed. The overwhelming response is that people like their internet free and change is nothing they desire.
Listening to reports about the SOPA blackouts while entertainment and internet giants battle to get Congress to listen to their concerns reminded me when I was a boy. I used to go the basketball court with my brother with the hope they may need a 10th man to play. I knew they would not pass me the ball or let me shoot, but to be on the court with those talented giants was all the incentive I needed. And maybe. Just maybe, they would let me really play next time.
SOPA is about foreign websites who steal whole movies and TV shows and place them on the internet. US copyright laws, which are clear and satisfying to almost all Americans, cannot shut these websites down. So SOPA will hold Google or Yahoo responsible as the provider and hold them accountable for copy right infringement. This is why Wikipedia is so upset. They have an open platform where people can edit and if someone does, they will be on the hook. This law is not about us little guys copying a youtube video to our facebook page. This is about large companies trying to keep their assets and market cornered.
But I have been racking my brain on what side to I want to be on. Do I want to be on the really rich guys' who provide original content and want to protect their creative rights? Do I want to be on the also rich guys' who organize and provide sources for me to access tons of knowledge and entertainment with a click of a button? Am I a creator or a consumer?
I am a content provider at heart, but all information is just an extension of knowledge given to me, whether it was from my 10th grade English course or a recent article on Reddit. I like to create new things with new technology and combine the craft of writing and all the literary traditions to an evolving, breathing instrument like the internet. I know when I am stealing (and my mother knows also) and I do believe that stealing is wrong, even from the fabulously wealthy.
I also enjoy websites that are open communities. But the host is responsible for inappropriate stealing going on, even if they want to say that freedom allows us to steal and suffer the consequences. Google and Yahoo are so large, they have no idea what they organize and make available. As one of my friends said today, as long as Google doesn’t try to push one thing or another, then they are not to blame. They ignore everything equally.
I came down to the idea that all of this, writing, videos, movies, songs, games, is entertainment. Once it is out there past your notebook or your computer, you lose control. It is not necessary for life. Copy right laws never seem to benefit the writer, but only the massive companies profiting. It is the creator’s job to protect their interest. It is not the government’s job to protect entertainment interest or to limit freedom of speech. Government’s sole occupation should deal with what is necessary for life.
Let the internet stay as free as possible. When a creator has a problem, let them contact the company and they will handle it, or they will have a lawsuit. The Government should not force companies to block access or monitor every bit of information. The Courts have enough to say.
We should not steal. We should not allow others to steal. We should share and provide access to as much information that may improve lives. We should always wash our hands with SOPA. I learned that mostly in kindergarten (Did I just steal that?).