SOPA: Same Old Pathetic Attitude

Notice the “Stop Censorship” ribbon at the upper right? You may also have noticed that last Wednesday a number of prominent websites, including Google, were “blacked out.”  Google only blacked out its name; but some other websites partially blacked out by removing content.

Why? To protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

For decades, the music and motion picture industries have been crying “wolf” ad nauseam that the latest technological advance will bankrupt them.  The “wolf” these days is the Internet.

I wonder how many of you remember the 1984 Supreme Court decision of “Sony vs. Universal City Studios?” (“Sony” and “1984” are the big hints if you think about what technological gizmo was big then.)  The vote was just 5-4 in favor of Sony.

Give up?  It was the “videotaping is copyright infringement” case.  The motion picture industry had taken the stance that videotaping a TV show violated their copyright.  Had there been just one more vote in favor of their stance…. (I believe that today’s Supreme Court has the five votes to support the motion picture industry, so it’s lucky the case isn’t being decided today.)

But the Supreme Court ruled that taping a TV show for personal use, without commercial use or gain, did not violate copyrights. Hollywood predicted its demise. But of course that didn’t happen.

That was not the first time the music and motion picture industries have engaged in the hysteria of technological Armageddon.  It happened before the VCR, it has happened since then, it is happening now with the Internet, and it will continue happening.  They will never stop crying “wolf” because they have the campaign contributions to convince many in Congress that the technological shadows they see are wolves.

Here’s a nice history of their “wolf” shouts through the decades and why SOPA is not the answer.

What I find…interesting…is that “small government” Republicans are too often enthusiastic about using the power of government in a sledgehammer way.  That’s what SOPA is…a sledgehammer.

A few days ago, the Justice Department shut down a major website involved in piracy.   So it is clear that existing laws and mechanisms are adequate.  But the motion picture and recording groups believe that there is no level of collateral damage that is unacceptable to protect their interests.  Which is why the wanted to stop the VCR.  And why they brought SOPA to willing sponsors.  (You don’t think anyone in Congress actually wrote the bill?)

Fortunately, it looks like SOPA is on its last leg.  Already, prominent Republicans who initially supported it have come out against it, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who withdrew his name as a sponsor of the Senate bill.  The backpedaling began after the “blackouts” by well known Internet sites.

Think about this: why did all those Congressional folks who initially supported SOPA support it?  Did they not know what was in the bill?  If they did not, why did they support it? (Big cash contributions to their reelection campaign?)  If they knew what was in the bill, why are they no longer supporting it?  (Hint:  same reason cockroaches run when a  light is turned on.)

Some folks might say:  “this shows the system is working.”  I’d say it sounds like the Captain of the Costa Concordia, whose excuse for leaving his ship is that he tripped and fell into a lifeboat.  Riiight….!

Unfortunately, the motion picture and recording industry groups are like the Terminator:  they’ll be back!


5 responses to “SOPA: Same Old Pathetic Attitude

  1. Man, is this ever a great post. I agree with every single word of it! (Kinda rare for a Democrat and an anarchist to agree lol.) Especially the part about “small-government Republicans”. “What we need in this country is more freedom! The government should butt out! Except, well, marriage is only between a man and a woman…and we’re going to make sure of it. Otherwise, the country is going to hell in a handbasket, like Rome did”. Remember Napster?
    Republicans are all wearing ruby slippers. And that excuse by the Captain of the Costa Concordia will live on in infamy as one of the greatest (worst) excuses of all time.

  2. Rather unsupported suppositions emerging here. The facts paint a much more complex picture of who is really behind SOPA/PIPA. Of course when you go looking for something you wanna see you will frequently find it, even if it is not factual.

    “Except, well, marriage is only between a man and a woman…and we’re going to make sure of it.”

    ‘Republicans are all wearing ruby slippers.”


    “Tech Company PACs Donate To SOPA/PIPA Sponsors ”
    Dave Copeland joined ReadWriteWeb in December 2011. He has previously been a staff writer focusing on business and technology for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Dow Jones News Service, and he has worked regularly as a freelance writer for a wide range of publications, including the Boston Globe, Boston magazine and the Wall Street Journal. Copeland’s 2007 book, “Blood & Volume: Inside New York’s Israeli Mafia” marked the first time a journalist got inside the brutal crime syndicate that operated in the 1980’s. In addition to his work at ReadWriteWeb, Copeland is a college journalism and writing professor.

    In terms of sheer numbers, however, Microsoft leads, having given $88,500 to SOPA- and PIPA-sponsoring lawmakers. The PACs of all six companies have given some money to lawmakers who support the proposed legislation, and are broken down below with the amount donated to those legislators and the percentage of total giving that went to SOPA and PIPA supporters in the current campaign finance cycle:

    Microsoft $88,500 (20.9%)
    eBay $32,750 (35.5%)
    Google $29,000 (47.5%)
    GoDaddy $20,500 (52.9%)
    Yahoo! $11,000 (35.5%)
    Amazon $4,000 (42.1%)

    Among the SOPA/PIPA supporting lawmakers who were the biggest beneficiaries of donations from the PACs of six companies analyzed:

    Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah $15,500
    Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. $14,000
    Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. $12,000
    Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas $11,000
    Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-Calif. $10,000
    Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif. $7,000
    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. $7,000
    Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. $7,000
    Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. $7,000
    Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. $6,500

    I know, facts are such messy things that get in the way of ideology.

    • PT, either I have misunderstood you completely on those donations, or you have some very fuzzy logic.

      > Microsoft leads, having given $88,500 to SOPA- and PIPA-
      > sponsoring lawmakers

      Ar you saying, that those funds were given by those firms *specifically* because they favored SOPA? If so, why did Google partially black out its site if it supports SOPA?

      On the other hand, I”m sure you can find out how much MPAA and RIAA have given to Congress. It is not going to be 4 and 5 digit chump change. (Try seven to eight digits.)

      So, if you want to follow the money, who is principally behind SOPA?

      You can start here:

  3. “What I find…interesting…is that “small government” Republicans are too often enthusiastic about using the power of government in a sledgehammer way. That’s what SOPA is…a sledgehammer.”

    It’s not about Republicans wearing Ruby Slippers, it’s about capitalism which, like it or not, is still what makes this country tick. The predominantly liberal performing artists, movie maker moguls, and entertainment corporations want to protect their profits. They just can’t figure out how to do it without getting caught restricting liberty. So they are conflicted. And yes they contradict themselves continuously and try diversionary tactics by contributing cash to get others to do their bidding………also the American way. If their positions backfire and even more profits are at peril they will change in a heartbeat like Google did.

    But it’s not 1 party against the other, it’s all about the backbone of the American Economy………..capitalism, evolving through the wonderful world of technology.

    The #2 internet issue for technology companies is security, right after profits.

  4. > capitalism, evolving through the wonderful world of technology.

    Evolution is an ugly process! I’ll be interested to see what happens with sales tax of Internet sales, both in Florida and nationally.

    As for capitalism, what’s with all the fuss over Romney paying only 15%? This is exactly what the conservatives wanted – lower tax rate on capital gains based on a “trickle down” theory (which I think is bogus). Yet, certain Republicans are trying to make that 15% now seem “unfair”.

    The real issue is whether or not the tax system should be used for social / financial / whatever engineering to promote / discourage behavior. I believe taxes should be only to raise revenue, so I want a flat tax with no deductions for anything. – kids, mortgage, etc. Everyone who makes the same amount pays the same tax, no exceptions.

What say you?

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