I know it may seem confusing. Am I part of this opposition to SOPA and PIPA and contributing in my own sarcastic way? Am I mocking the movement and in support of the bills?
Well, neither. I intended this “Black Out” to mock the ignorance of some people who jump on the bandwagon because they finally have the opportunity to appear intellectual simply because they reblogged something without knowing anything about the legislation. So my posting of African Americans in a “black out” was supposed to be the hypothetical activism of someone engaging in the black out without even knowing what a blackout was, and assuming it was just the posting of black individuals.
It’s a stretch.
But I think an important line in the proverbial internet activism sand needs to be drawn between people who actually know what they’re talking about, and people who are essentially saying “I don’t want to pay for music and I really want this girl in my Poli Sci 101 class to think I know about laws, so I’m going to make my profile picture an anti-SOPA thing.”
Are the bills a bad thing?
Based solely on their intentions? No, not at all. The danger lies in the poor execution of these bills, which is at a very high risk based on their lofty aspirations. The bills, specifically SOPA, are attempting to protect intellectual property and the jobs of individuals who create entertainment and/or the websites to distribute it for a profit.
But this is the internet, it’s the 21st century man, those people can go fuck themselves welcome to the modern world where everything is free and the internet is a vast playground of no rules.
No. The internet is in its infancy, and unchecked, will become the above. Then, websites and the makers of music, films, television shows and all other entertainment outlets, with no revenue coming in will shut down or produce less. One of the first things they will have to cut as people run around paying nothing for their services? Advertising. Then, websites that profit solely from advertising will be hit like a domino. Eventually, and whether you like it or not, internet piracy will undermine entrepreneurship and the very companies that keep the internet sites you love afloat.
So pass the bills?
No, not in their current state. The bills cast too large of a net in their quest to protect this intellectual property. The ambiguous nature leaves far too much room for abuse of the law. Websites just starting out would find it hard to weed through their links to other sites and advertisers to find ones that may put them in violation of the act. The bill would then require too much legal action to be taken by the young companies, the cost alone of keeping your internet company from violating the act would be too high for any entrepreneur to afford, and a great many start ups would never see the light of day.
Imagine a monopoly on the internet by companies with enough money to keep themselves within the confines of SOPA and PIPA. It wouldn’t be their fault, really. They would just be in an advantageous position, but the same companies you see touting their black squares on their websites today would be some of the few left standing.
So that’s my take. I support reform of the bills, followed by a passing of a greatly doctored version that takes an equal step in protecting start up companies and refining the provisions in the bills to avoid ambiguity and potential for abuse.