Thursday, January 19, 2012


“It's better to swim in the sea below
Than to swing in the air and feed the crow,
Says jolly Ned Teach of Bristol.”
Benjamin Franklin

Computer Pirate

SOPA, PIPA, what are they?  Well, for one thing, they're the reason Wikipedia was black yesterday.  SOPA is the House of Representatives version of the Senate's PIPA.  The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) are both attempts to curb online piracy.  Specifically, piracy facilitated by “foreign rogue websites,” meaning sites that are hosted outside of the United States, and thus outside the reach of US law.  I've heard that statement many times, and I still don't know what it means or how it would affect me.  So, I've been doing some reading.  

Pirates are bad.  Many of us love the romanticism of Pirates of the Carribean, but that's not the kind of pirates Congress is trying to squelch.    We all agree that it isn't right to download a movie and then pass it on to others for a fee, right?  We all know that most music you download isn't free, right?  We all know that it isn't right to copy something that belongs to someone else and use it as our own, right?  We all know this.  We all know that you can get in trouble for this.  The Digital Millenium Copyright Act covered this.  Many of us remember the woman from the Duluth area that was fined an excruciatingly large fine for downloading music from Napster.  It's wrong, don't do it.  If you do, someone will come after you and demand money. 

We had wireless here at the library for a while.  And then we got a notice from Mediacom stating that there had been a copyright infringement.  Someone used our wireless to illegally download a movie.  How?  I don't know.  I don't even want to know.  Who?  We don't know, and probably never will.  Long and short, we could be fined up to $250,000 for each copyright infringement.  Well, that's more than 10 times our annual budget.  For a movie we didn't get to see.  Our wireless has since been shut down. 

One person sure can wreck things for everyone else.

Piracy is bad.

That being said, it seems Congress is going a bit over-board with this.  SOPA and PIPA would make it even easier for copyright holders to shut down sights that they feel are misusing their material.  From what I've gathered, it would make it very easy for them to shut down a website that wasn't working the way they wanted it to.  If a company in Xepanislovakia has copies of your favorite song available for download for free, and a Google search pops up with that company; Google would be held liable.  Copyright infringement.  I'm put in prison because my cousin committed a crime.  Wikipedia links to a site that in some way violates copyright infringement laws, and Wikipedia gets shut down. 

Piracy is bad.

The majority of us aren't pirates.  Most of us are good, upstanding, law abiding citizens of the world.  SOPA and PIPA are an attempt to help get rid of people who aren't law abiding citizens of the world.  Unfortunately; at the same time, SOPA and PIPA put us onto the slippery slope of censorship, with a bit of Big Brother thrown in for good measure.

Mixed metaphors abound.  I'm all for giving credit where credit is due.  I would hope other people would be as well, but not everyone is.  Lots of people want something for nothing, and there are lots of people out there that will provide it.  Generally there's some hidden cost, but nothing up front.  Your favorite song from Xepanislovakia may be free along with a cookie that will introduce you to a bunch of spam.  SOPA and PIPA are kind of a way to get rid of that.  Except they've gone a bit too far with it.

Now that Wikipedia and the rest are back up and running, does that mean the fight over SOPA and PIPA is over?  No, it isn't.  The vote on PIPA is scheduled for January 24th.  I'm hoping that Congress got the idea that this isn't a good idea.  But, it might be a good idea to send them a reminder.

Pirate Skeleton

“There is no shortage of well-known pirates, including: Henry Morgan, Captain Kidd, Blackbeard, Blue beard, Yellowbeard, and Yellow beard with Black Roots, who surmised that, if blondes have more fun, then blond pirates must have a heck of a lot more fun.”
Cuthbert Soup, Another Whole Nother Story

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the clarity. I didn't understand what was happening! Piracy is bad!!!!