16 November 2011

Protect IP Act / Stop Online Piracy Act and its ramifications:

Hello again everyone,

It's been almost forever since I've posted, though there's definitely something stuck in my craw tonight. While I've been following net neutrality at a distance lately, there's something far more insidious... and that's the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and Microsoft banding together to make laws for the United States.

You see, there's a problem they're having. They can't get anyone to buy their overpriced crap. Unfortunately, the Internet is a good place to share the fact that what they've got is crap, and while there are people who do share their crap online (gasp, even in the U.S.!) they still wouldn't be caught dead wanting to buy it.

Instead of facing facts and realizing that these people wouldn't buy their crap at any price other than free, they THINK that these people are just a market to be tapped and that once piracy is "stamped out", they will have increased sales.

The only problem? They're now using the U.S. Government to try to enforce ALL piracy (including overseas piracy) AND they're telling all of the Internet companies that M$, RIAA, and MPAA are not paying for this new and fascinating service. They're throwing it all on the communications companies (and to some extent, credit card providers by blocking sales) to police this. And the best part is that the U.S. Government is rolling so far backwards for this as to make any CLAIM enforceable rather than forcing these idiots to actually come before a court to defend themselves.

I call this bad news because ultimately what we do on this website is operate in the grey area of copyright, ostensibly to fight against crap. Of course, there are arguments that what my cowriter and I do is to make fun of stories written by people who are practicing, or who may have a good topic but not-so-great execution, and I agree. However, in order to make the jokes we do, we draw similarities to many aspects of life, including movies published by companies represented by the MPAA, or music published by companies represented by the RIAA, or... well, Microsoft. We do this to also poke fun at deserving representatives of bad music or movies (among other things). We are not making a thin dime off of any of this, but I really do not know what might happen if the webmaster currently running nabiki.com would ever receive one of these claim letters. Point being, I do fear for the future of both the online marketplace of ideas as well as the ability of this site (or many others) to continue, especially if copyrights become SO IMPORTANT that they can triumph over both free speech and the rights to a trial of your peers.

To be truthful, I do fear somewhat for the larger world of fanfiction too. I have no clue if sites like FFnet or Mediaminer would also be shut down, because there are a lot of copyrighted characters all over the place there, and those websites are run partially by advertisements (if I remember correctly). This is a serious issue, and there is a lot of money being poured in by our esteemed "corporate citizens" in order to ensure passage. (It's really amazing that our corporate citizens seem to have far more rights than, say, real citizens.)

Feel free to write your congressman and senator, the Protect IP Act is Senate Bill S968 and the Stop Online Piracy Act is HR3261. It's pretty sad in that this bill was voted down in 2010 as the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeiting Act", but BIG money talks and buys our lawmakers.

Whether or not they get it through this time, they'll keep trying. The very second they do, I will be happy to participate in ANY boycott that is organized, be it movie sharing/swapping with friends or the library, and my already barely existent buying of both music and Microsoft products will come to a very quick end.

Fight the power!