As we go deeper into an information age, I think that we need to have serious conversations about what is colloquially termed piracy. We need to distinguish media piracy from software piracy because they’re not the same thing. We need to seriously interrogate fairness and equality, creative production and cultural engagement. And we need to seriously take into consideration why people do what they do. I strongly believe that when people work en masse to route around a system, the system is most likely the thing that needs the fixing, not the people.
A common refrain in Silicon Valley is that Congress should be smart enough to know how the Internet works. It may sound reasonable, but it isn’t. There are 535 people in Congress who are responsible for passing laws that relate to the environment, pharmaceuticals, transportation, infrastructure, foreign policy, social services — every topic under the sun.
Although it’s a top-of-mind issue for us, neither California Senator Dianne Feinstein nor Senator Barbara Boxer list PIPA (the Senate equivalent of SOPA) on their top issues pages. It’s unreasonable to expect that members of Congress, many of whom are career politicians, study our business. Some make gut reactions in the name of privacy or fear of “hacking.”…
…In an accident of geography, technology has to fight for advocacy in Congress with Hollywood because both are represented by senators from California. If you look at campaign contributions alone, Hollywood does a much better job at reaching out to Senators Feinstein and Boxer than the Internet industry does. According to OpenSecrets.org, Feinstein has received $168,000 from the TV/movie/music industry vs. $86,465 from the Internet industry in the 2012 campaign cycle. Boxer has received $898,568 from Hollywood vs. $431,489 from the Internet industry.
Both of California’s senators are listed as co-sponsors of PIPA.
The cynical thing to do is assume that members of Congress are acting purely in their own financial interests. That may be true for some, but just as many believe that they are doing the right thing. That’s because we suck at presenting our side.
Rocky Agrawal, VentureBeat. If SOPA passes, we’re as much to blame as Congress and Hollywood.
Agrawal argues that SOPA and PIPA opponents must do a better job at educating politicians and the media on these issues and their consequences.
Under SOPA, websites can be blacklisted and removed from the Internet if they appear to be infringing on intellectual property or distributing copyrighted works. This is especially troublesome for artists whose work depends on fair use law and resides at the intersection of art, mass media critique and appropriation.
If SOPA passes, the U.S. government would easily be able to remove art from the Internet by seeking a court order against either the artist or the hosting provider. Corporate lobbyists would decide what art could and could not be shown online.
Alicia Eler, ReadWriteWeb. How SOPA Would Kill Art & Creativity Online.
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I remember fondly the days when we were all tickled pink by our elected officials’ struggle to understand how the internet works. Whether it was George W. Bush referring to “the internets” or Senator Ted Stevens describing said internets as “a series of tubes,” we would sit back and chortle at our well-meaning but horribly uninformed representatives, confident that the right people would eventually steer them back on course. Well I have news for members of Congress: Those days are over.
We get it. You think you can be cute and old-fashioned by openly admitting that you don’t know what a DNS server is. You relish the opportunity to put on a half-cocked smile and ask to skip over the techno-jargon, conveniently masking your ignorance by making yourselves seem better aligned with the average American joe or jane — the “non-nerds” among us. But to anyone of moderate intelligence that tuned in to yesterday’s Congressional mark-up of SOPA, the legislation that seeks to fundamentally change how the internet works, you kind of just looked like a bunch of jack-asses.