I was happy to read here that the committee meeting convened to markup SOPA today didn’t go as well as the big media supporters had wanted. Apparently, things got off to a great start when:
The session is likely to be a long one. Early in the hearing, Chairman Smith asked for unanimous consent to skip reading the bill aloud. But Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), a fierce opponent of the proposal, insisted that a clerk read the whole thing—a process that took about an hour. With that kind of acrimony, the Committee is likely to be working late into the night.
The political cartoonist David Rees got pissed off about SOPA enough that he came out of retirement to create new anti-SOPA comics above and here (there’s a lot more censorship yuck-it-ups there than the one that I posted above). Today’s the day–tell your congressional representatives that this kind of big-business-wants-to-rule-the-internet crap is unacceptable!
The Stop Online Piracy Act is a bad law that will screw up the Internet for Americans in terribly devastating ways. I’m with these guys against SOPA. You should join the fight, too by going here to find out how to call your Congressional representative.
Today is the ad hoc American Censorship Day. Why? A committee in the House of Representatives has stacked their deck of experts 5 to 1 in favor of the SOPA, Stop Online Piracy Act. Even though this law could radically change the way the Internet works in the US (so that it can be restricted in the same way that it is restricted in China, Iran, and Syria), many congressional members support this law and they do not want public dissenting voices to be heard during committee. Techdirt has coverage of the hearing today here.
SOPA and Protect-IP are intended to put the thumbscrews on online discussion, fair use, and entrepreneurship. This infographic explains the potential effects of the bill if made law.
This is another example of our elected officials catering to outmoded big business. Big media wants to consolidate its control over the Internet, because those companies are unwilling to adjust their business models to the here-and-now. Instead, they want to flex their money-muscle and reconfigure the Internet so that they remain on top. I suppose this is the logic of capital. Increased regulation helps diversify the market, which leads to benefits for consumers. Conglomerates and virtual monopolies do not want this. Instead, they want to solidify their own position by hijacking the democratic process and putting laws in place that not only gives them added control over the primary medium of discourse but also further criminalizes previously non-criminal acts.
Go to the American Censorship Day website here, and send an email (or even better–call them!) letting your representatives know that you are against SOPA/Protect-IP.
Ruth Suehle constructed a fantastic DRM graveyard: A brief history of digital rights management in music.
Digital rights management or DRM is a method for controlling access to various digital media including music, movies, and software. The “rights” being managed are those of content creators to a lesser extent and of content distributors to a greater extent. As Suehle’s timeline demonstrates, DRM systems often bite the dust, because users overwhelmingly demand their own rights to purchased media. One of the most important rights is transferability, or using media on a digital device or computer of one’s choosing. The trouble with many DRM systems is that transferability is difficult or impossible, because content controllers and distributors begin with the tacit assumption that all content consumers are not to be trusted. The assumption that most DRM systems are based on is that users will “steal” content or use purchased content in was unintended by the creators or distributors. This lack of respect and too much trouble imposed by most DRM systems lead consumers to find new channels for content distribution that are less restricting and more respectful.
Now that the terribly draconian and Internet-breaking PROTECT-IP bill has made its way to the floor of the House, TechCrunch offers an explanation of the real problems with the bill here: Kill Switch. If you care about an open Internet, you should share the link to TC’s story with others. If you aren’t sure what this all means, it only takes a few minutes to scan TC’s article. If you want a broken Internet that gives corporations unfettered control over what is said and posted online, perhaps you should leave the Internet to us adults and go some time here.