Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Digressions and Silence - Another SOPA Piece

Today will be a break from the usual. Even though I'm not American I, like most that have heard about SOPA and PIPA, believe that it represents nothing less than an enormous threat to the idea of media on the internet as we know it.

I know that many sites, including Wikipedia and reedit are either already blacked out or are planning to black out in protest of the bill. It seems that now more than ever the circumstances surrounding the bill are utterly protean: from the removal of DNS blocking on the terms, to the president's denouncement and subsequent "shelving" of the bill.

The day seems won, for the most part. But perhaps that's just what those in favour of the bill would like us to think. Certainly there has been mention that SOPA will be back, being rewritten in February. What concerns me however, is this reedit post, which I will relay in full. Let me stress that this comes from one person, so I cannot attest to the validity of it:

"It's not a waiting game, it's a game of poker. Lamar Smith has a royal flush and few people know it.
SOPA may pass. It may not. He doesn't care, and it doesn't matter. The MPAA and RIAA started working on their legislative strategy to pass a new anti-piracy bill in late 2010. SOPA was designed to raise the noise. Everyone is playing right into the entertainment industries hand. The lobbyists are laughing manically at the ignorance of the mob. Even Wikipedia and reddit have played into it.

"What people don't know about is the ace: H.R.1981, the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 which is lying in wait. It's not complete. You see, PCIP is not contestable because it's about protecting children. They can, and very well might, copy and paste the full text of SOPA to the end of PCIP. That's the backup. That's the deal that was struck with entertainment industry lobbyists. We will try to push this anti-piracy bill. It probably won't work. Don't worry, we can pass it under an anti-child pornography bill.
There are two things which no Congressman will risk supporting: terrorism and child pornography. There can be no opposition, no discussion. Any anti-piracy law can ALWAYS be reframed as an anti-child pornography bill and it will pass, without even discussion. It will have the full support of the House (minus Ron Paul), the full support of the Senate, and most importantly the full support of the American people. NO ONE wants to risk being called a pedophile. 

"The entertainment industry has finally caught up with technology. They understand how it works. It took them 15 years, but they know what DNS is. They are going to exploit a fundamental problem with the way DNS is centralized and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. They have found an error in the very architecture of the Internet. The solution, from a free speech standpoint is not to fight it politically. The solution is the fix the error.

"We must move to a decentralized system of DNS. It is not impossible. It requires some new thinking and a re-architecture of some web services, but it must be done if we want the Internet, as we know it today, to exist in 5 or 10 years" 

This information, if it is true, represents to me the highest form of utterly revolting cowardice from those that would seek to purge what they see fit, having gained all they need for their benefit from the system. To hide a dramatically flawed bill that would give unprecedented power to a group of select few behind a target that no one is willing to touch is something that is so deeply, morally wrong that it almost makes me want to laugh if it didn't disgust me so.

I dearly hope that this isn't true, that it won't come to this. If it does, however, then all I can hope for is that people will for once be able to see past the idea that it is not wrong to speak out against something that is unfair, even if doing so makes one seem morally dubious. Isn't it so that those that would seek to use such leverage against us in the first place are more than that: that they are morally bankrupt?

Frankly, if they want to play dirty and think they can get away with it then isn't it about time that we, the ones that stand to lose the most, start doing in kind? It may not be a matter of it, but rather when, and how.

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