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Sunday, January 15, 2012

SOPA Will Ultimately Be Our Fault

As was the DMCA

As was The Patriot Act

As was The NDAA.

And so it will be for SOPA/PIPA.

When I say "our" fault, I am not talking about those of us in the tech field, although we have a major part to play in defeating it.  I am talking about everyone.  I'm talking about the grocery checkout guy, the lady who rents you a car or the policeman who pulls you over for speeding.

And let me first clarify that the normal political infighting here is verboten.  This isn't a left vs right's a right vs wrong thing.  Those of us who still insist on putting our toes firmly on a party line need to re-evaluate our allegiances.

Those comments won't even be considered for publication.  It's sickening how party politics have almost destroyed our government.

Did you Bush voters ever think that he could ever sign a bill into law such as the Patriot Act?

Did you Obama voters ever, in your wildest GD dreams, think that he would be capable of penning his name to the NDAA?  And Gitmo is closed now....right?

The answer most of us would give is...No.

So screw the divisive Democrat vs Republican artificial lines of contention here, at least for a while and let's come to an understanding of what we are dealing with.

The most naive, idealistic freshman politicians are ultimately corrupted by The Beltway.  Something happens to them in that environment that makes them think they are insulated from public scrutiny and constituent opinion.

Inevitably you have people like Lamar Smith and Patrick Leahy accepting a combined figure of a half of a million dollars in campaign funds from Hollywood, to push laws through like  SOPA and PIPA.

And Therein lies the problem.

One industry, trying to protect it's broken business model, if successful, will change the landscape of the Internet for a decade or more.  If they have their way, the Internet will become just another venue for paywalled cable television.  Once entrenched, these laws will take years to undo, if they are ever undone at all.  And through it all, the majority of Americans will go on with their lives, watching Dancing with the Stars and gossiping about the latest TMZ garbage.

and that will be largely our fault.

There is little point in "contacting your representative" via snail mail or email.  The best you will receive is a canned response from some low-level staffer, explaining why the politician is in favor of this bill.  (S)He will wave the flag, talk about how piracy costs jobs and directly affects the US economy.

If the music and movie industry is holding ANY economy up, they were in trouble long before now.

Email is probably the most easily ignored medium for communications.  It can be filtered and deleted with no effort what so ever.  A persistent phone call or a physical appearance however is a different story.

There is too much insulation between the voter and the politician.  We don't need letters or emails.  We need fingers pointed personally and directly at those politicians, calling them out on their votes and actions.  We need fingers stuck in the chests of these clowns, demanding the truth.

How a congressman can enter office with a net worth of less than 50 thousand dollars and in two years be worth over 2 million is in itself amazing.  What is even more amazing is that the American people shrug it off as they turn the channel to watch Jersey Shore.

So as it is with most things, a few will instigate change for the many.  And if we're lucky, it won't take a generation for us to undo it.

SOPA or PIPA is going to pass.

 Many websites (to include mine) plan a "darkout" here in the next few days to educate their readers as to the dangers of SOPA/PIPA.  While these actions have the potential to educate millions of people, I fear that in reality, it will just be another instance of performance art.

The politician casting his vote isn't directly affected by this unless people call them or visit them en mass.  He or she probably won't know about it until some staffer brings it up in a meeting a week later.

No.  It takes direct intervention to affect change, but I'm afraid in this case, it may even be too late for that.  To much cash has flowed into the pockets of decision makers now.  The die is cast.  They've received payment to do a job and now they will do it.

and through it all, us "Republicans" and "Democrats" will savage each other like wild pack dogs, each blaming the other in order to assign blame.

When it is the fault of all of us for not doing the right thing.

A good friend of mine brings the whole thing into perspective with one question.

"The Second Amendment?  Pish.  What good is having all these guns if we're not willing to use them to protect our rights?"

Will it ever come to that?  Should it ever come to that?  We probably will only know when they come knocking on OUR doors, telling us we have to give up our Second Amendment rights.

And when it comes right down to it, SOPA or PIPA isn't going to stop me from gaining access to sites that give me what I want.  I don't watch much TV but I do follow a few programs on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, it's usually 3 in the morning and a full 24 hours after they aired that I am able to watch them.

Does the network or producer offer these shows on their websites after the initial viewing?  Some of them do but none for what I watch.  Is there any where I can go to pay a bit of money and watch them legitimately when I am ready to watch them.


So I will simply type in the numerical representation of that "rogue" website that does offer links to them and go on about my business.  That's all it will take to bypass SOPA.  Smart website owners will move their domains to places the US cannot or will not reach and life will be good...for those who know how to access it anyway.  Does that make me a criminal?  Probably, but then again, I don't personally care.

So, you want to bring my actions of watching "pirated" TV shows with those of someone accessing child pornography?  Lots of luck with that.

"You can't stop the signal, Lamar".

Catch me if you can.  I'm not downloading anything, I am not sharing anything, and I am not "stealing" anything.  I am watching something on my computer that is accessible to anybody with the know-how to access it.  Give me an option to pay for it on demand at my terminal and I will not do it any more.

If anything, that's what the politicians running this country need to learn.  The consumer is king and the consumer will have what they want.  Regardless of how hard they try to keep it from them.

All-righty Then....


Paul Sams said...

I completely agree with you. The political rhetoric is always played as us versus (insert any group you dislike here) and keeps us squabbling among ourselves while our elected officials keep doing the same old same old. We each have the power to remove our officials, hard as it may be now, but it can be done. This is not about liberal versus conservative, I don't even like those terms, it's about our rights. If you allow the rights of one person to be taken away, you have also allowed one of your rights to be taken away. It's fine for us to disagree, we have that right so far. But when we try to tear down each others rights, we also destroy our own. You hit a nerve with me on this one, as I have gotten older and been through life experiences that have challenged my "cut and dried opinions." I see that people have much in common, but stay divided on political labels that keep them from seeing the big picture, this is not football or religion, this is life. When we lose our freedom it doesn't matter if you're liberal, conservative, evangelical or secular.
Well, that's my 2:30 AM rant, I'm tired so it's straight from the heart.
Paul Sams

PV said...

But I think some of the apathy can be explained. Did you see the debates in Congress over SOPA and PIPA? Despite a huge outcry from pretty much everyone except the **AAs and petitions coming in from huge numbers of ordinary citizens, every single debate was 100% stacked with supporters of the bills. When you know that's going to happen, what's the point?
I of course don't support this view at all, and I agree that it is ultimately our fault for continuing to elect generic politicians rather than finding a large number of people at the same time (because as you said, one freshman member of Congress alone isn't going to change anything) who are actually committed to doing the right thing.
Hopefully the "Americans Elect" thing works out. I'm happy to see at least some concerted effort to bring in third parties that might actually do good, but what we need is a wholesale effort like that expanded to include all 535 members of Congress.
a Linux Mint user since 2009 May 1

Paul Sams said...

I'm surprised you don't have more comments, still can't sleep yet, but I see my earlier and want to apologize for almost copying your own article. I think large companies and organizations have lost their moral obligations. They always have and should have profits as a priority, but they also have a responsibility to people as we all do. I'm sad that there are people that feel it's okay for someone to starve or die because they can't buy food or get medical care. I see the names of men and women killed in undeclared wars and hear someone comment that they volunteered and so they made their choice. They pay a high price while we let our freedoms slip away. I know this is about SOPA, but SOPA will take away more of our freedom in the name of controlling our access to information. People don't seem to think about the piracy of companies buying our elected officials, our taxes we paid when they receive incentives and tax breaks and still stick it to all of us. We have both major political parties trying to give us a group of people to "hate" and the truth is most folks are trying to get through their daily lives just as I do. It is long past time for all of us to speak up, vote, and refuse to lay down and give up our freedom. Government is supposed to act in the interest of it's citizens, not the other way around. I would add that the actions of our past two presidents to "protect us from terrorist" only indicates that the terrorist have won. I'm really fired up so if my comments are off topic feel free to remove them.
Paul Sams

Anonymous said...

You know Paul, I used to be a part of that R vs D polarity but the past few years (as the author points out) has shown me that there is precious little difference between the two anymore. When the number one concern of a politician is to get re-elected instead of tending to the people's business, then something is terribly wrong.

I agree with this guy on poking fingers into a politicians chest. I would get arrested for assault probably but that's what it is going to take to get their attention. I quit writing letters a long time ago. I now wait until they are in town and confront them when there are TV cameras around. I've gotten lucky throughout the years and had my little diatribes aired but in the long run, it hasn't made any difference.

American political apathy, along with affiliation with political parties will rob us of every freedom we have if we don't wake up.

And I like the subtle mention of armed revolt. Most Americans are much too timid to even think of such a thing but I as well as many of my friends and associates are not.

Paul Sams said...

we have a second amendment and always will have one because the states(and the people) would never tolerate repealing it. I am against any armed revolt, look no further than the former Yugoslovia, Somalia and the many other places where people are killed just because of their religion or ethnic roots. We have the ballot box which has more power than any gun. The problem is Americans don't use it enough and they tolerate the current system of divisive politics and corporate buy outs of elected leaders. I know divisive politics are nothing new, but it's at a critical point now. When people get motivated enough to get involved then we can change things. When we start pointing guns at each other we have already failed.
Paul Sams

James Dixon said...

> I agree with this guy on poking fingers into a politicians chest.

At least in theory, that's one of the functions of the press. How's that been working out? I think a John Boy and Billy line comes to mind.

But yeah, it's our collective fault we have the government we do. And while there's always hope, I don't really expect things to change.

Fortunately, Obama has threatened to veto the bill, and it appears to be dead in the water at this time. It'll be back next session, of course, and the one after that, and the one after that. :(

Paul Sams said...

If you can't sign your name, maybe you should not post your statement.
Paul Sams

kozmcrae said...

My brother never heard of SOPA. He's too caught up in the conspiracy theories. To me they are a distraction from the real threats. I told him to Google SOPA.

While people are concerned about secret societies that are not so secret and fake Moon landings involving hundreds of thousands of technicians and the entire Russian space program, they are missing a very real threat to their freedom.

Kind of makes me wonder what keeps the conspiracy theories going.

kozmcrae said...

This just in:

Guess who rates the lowest on honesty and ethical standards? Three guesses, the first two don't count.

1/16/12 8:57 PM

Anonymous said...

Just read this:

MartijnV, Netherlands