Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SOPA Ain't Cool, Yo.

As a person who uses the Internet as their sole outlet for publicly utilizing my First Amendment rights, SOPA is insulting. If you want to read the bill, you can do so here. It's actually not all that hard to understand, which is why I'm even more peeved that Congress thinks we don't comprehend that this bill gives them overreaching power to destroy our blogs, our social media, our entire Internet experience as we know it.

If you don't have the time to read the bill, watch this video or Google the many articles on the subject. If that's still too time consuming, you could just stay here and watch as I illustrate the potential disaster this bill could bring, just to my little blog. Especially to my little blog.

I often post photos on my entries that are quite obviously not mine. Most of them are screen captures of movies or TV shows. I don't credit them to anyone because I link them from a URL, which was probably linked from another URL. You know, like this:

All I'm trying to do here is exhibit my lady wood for both Ron Swanson and Han Solo. I'm not trying to take credit for creating either character, nor the compounded image itself. I'm not trying to claim that a character created far before I was born and one far after are actually one person. I'm not trying to make money off of this image (more on that later), but if SOPA passes, I will be treated like that's precisely what I'm trying to do.

According to H.R.3261, if I post something like this image and the right person sees it, my and your Internet Service Providers can block my site from our computers. That means that even though you all know that I didn't write, direct, or participate in the Star Wars franchise in any way, you can't continue to read my blog because Hollywood thinks I'm trying to steal an idea that's over 30 years old.

Oh, and despite the fact that I make a meager amount of money with this blog using AdSense, I don't make it because of Hollywood's images. I make it because I have friends, near and far, who for some reason want to read what I have to say. The images are just a treat for sitting down long enough to read in an age where it's pretty hard to concentrate enough to do that. If I had never used any of these images, I have full faith that I would have the exact same amount of revenue in my AdSense account I do today. However, because I profit (barely - I haven't even made enough to give Google my tax info, yet) from this blog, all that would have to happen is some lowly Hollywood assistant informing his boss about my using their production company's image before I received a notice that I could be shut down.

It doesn't matter that these images are available to the general public because the general public saw them the moment the film was released, the episode aired. It doesn't matter that you could Google the term "Ron Swanson," even without my blog, and come up with millions of sources. Why? Because SOPA will try to censor Google and other search engines, too.

If this doesn't freak you out, you are probably the last person on earth who doesn't use the term Google as a verb. Google is an amazing tool that we have at the tips of our fingers. It is completely free. We can use it to find out anything we want. Do you remember what it was like trying to remember who sang a song before search engines came along? It was fucking torture, man.

The point is, if there are links to infringing sites on any search engine, the search engine will be asked to take it off. If they don't comply, they could be shut down in the same manner my blog could. You know who else could be shut down? Social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, and God forbid, TUMBLR! They would be held accountable for any posting of copyrighted material on our profiles, channels, and blogs. We would have to stop sharing things with each other because some assholes in Hollywood have their panties in a twist.

I don't want to live in a world where I can't watch a cute British girl sing "Super Bass," even though Nicki Minaj herself loved the video, because some dick in a suit at Nicki's record company wants to ensure that the mini songbird doesn't steal his revenue. Because really, cute children never help boost the sales of anything, right?

At the end of the day, there is gonna be some piracy. While I truly believe everyone should get credit for their ideas, and people should be able to make a living out of their art, how can you shut down a website for LINKING to a video they FREELY ADMITTED they didn't create? Doesn't Hollywood's billion dollar industry have enough? Is putting the extra money in Hollywood's pocket really worth destroying the rest of us, trying to create art that is just as good, if not better than what Tinsel Town is churning out?

People like Joseph Gordon-Levitt have been trying to break this idea that art and ideas can't be shared to be made better. I've felt this way for a really long time, and the opportunity has been made easier, better by the widespread reach of the Internet.

SOPA began to stop piracy, but the evolution and the wording of the bill would be perilous to all of us little guys, just trying to do what we love and share cool shit with our friends. SOPA is trying to tell me that trying to EXPAND the fan base for "Parks and Rec" is wrong, which is kind of weird.

Hollywood and Congress are very obviously out of touch with the people, so tell them that we're not down with this. We're not okay with being blocked from sites we love. We're not okay with not being able to cover pop songs and post them on our YouTube channels. We're not okay with being banned from sharing funny links with our friends across the country. We're not okay with the government trying to change our entire new-age way of life for a bunch of dicks who already have millions to billions of dollars. Write Congress. There's already a form filled out for you. It takes two seconds. If you don't, there's a good chance that censorship bar on my blog could become a reality, not just a gimmick to get your attention. You really don't want your Internet experience to look like this, do you?

Go forth into the night, my friends. Don't let our free speech be dictated by others.

May the force be with you.
© George Lucas