Don’t be so scared of the Internet, America
Maybe you’ve seen the “Creativeamerica” people around campus. They’re very nice-looking young people wearing black polo shirts who politely ask you to sign a petition to “stop piracy of movies and music”. As their website says “Creativeamerica brings together actors, directors, studio employees and others who make a living in and care about film, television and other creative industries and believe that creativity and innovation deserve to be protected.”
According to their website, the film and television industry exports 13.5 billion worth of content each year and according to a Washington Post article, 153 million worth of all presumed entertainment capital is taken by various forms of piracy. One could rightfully guess that a majority of that piracy is handled over the Internet.
This is obviously unfortunate, but what’s also unfortunate is how this scare over piracy is manifesting itself in public policy.
The Creativeamerica campaign website does not specify any solutions to the piracy problem, but it does ask its supporters to call their representatives and ask them to address the problem.
But not to worry, Creativeamerica, Texas congressman Lamar Smith is way ahead of you.
Smith has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, which “allows the Attorney General to seek injunctions against foreign websites that steal and sell American innovations and products."
Sounds good, right? The only thing is that a “foreign website” refers to any site that posts or holds trademarked material that isn’t theirs, meaning Youtube is a “foreign website” for holding millions, if not billions of songs, movie clips and other trademarked material that it did not pay for.
Your Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud and e-mail accounts are all possible “foreign websites” if you’ve posted or blogged any trademarked property. Now you’re not so into it.
Fact is, there are already laws on the books that protect intellectual and trademarked property on the Internet.
The Digital Millennium Act, passed in 1998, gives holders of intellectual property authority to take down and fine any website or server that violates copyright protection laws, this is the law that gives FOX the right to take down any and every decent Family Guy clip you’ve tried to look up on Yoututbe.
The law has been amended and redefined over the last 13 years to protect individuals and sites that have been unfairly abused by companies seeking to overly protect their intellectual property online.
The difference between SOPA and the laws already in the books is that SOPA will make existing laws harsher and make platforms like Google, Youtube and peer-to-peer file-sharing sites take more of a financial hit if prosecuted and run the risk of being completely shut down by the Attorney General.
Now you really don’t like it.
Recently congress has taken the news of their public approval rating sliding below 9 percent by doing their best to bring it down to 1 percent, or less.
Unable to do anything to heal the blow that the recession has had on 99 percent of Americans, they’ve decided to pass two resolutions - one that reaffirmed the motto “In God we Trust,” and another that qualified French fries and pizza as vegetables in public-school lunches. Oh I hope they make chocolate a fruit!
SOPA is just another example of unwarranted and in this case possibly destructive legislation.
SOPA will not protect the entertainment industry nor will it protect jobs.
It will bully your little sister for posting a video of herself singing her favorite Taylor Swift song on Youtube.
A 12-year-old kid downloading a copy of “Watch the Throne” on a peer-to-peer file-sharing site isn’t destroying the entertainment industry, a man selling a bootlegged copy of Avatar on the streets of Mumbai isn’t, either.
Don’t get me wrong, piracy is bad, and the work that goes into making a film, tv show or album should be rewarded just like any other job, but enacting a law authored by a politician who doesn't understand how most of us get our entertainment in the 21st century or how the Internet works is worse.
Change and innovation are the driving force of capitalism, technology is the driving force of capitalism.
When Thomas Edison perfected the film, camera entertainers of the time freaked out for a second, and then embraced the new technology.
We can keep entertainment jobs here in the U.S., we just have to be creative, America. Know what I mean?