Today the US Senate is considering legislation that would destroy the free and open Internet.

“Why is it that when Republicans and Democrats need to solve the budget and the deficit, there’s deadlock, but when Hollywood lobbyists pay them $94 million dollars to write legislation, people from both sides of the aisle line up to co-sponsor it?”

        –Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian on CNBC.

I put this on my Tumblr thing earlier today, but I'm reposting it here, because it's important to me. If you don't know what SOPA and ProtectIP are, read this technical examination of SOPA and ProtectIP from the Reddit blog and come back when you're done.

SOPA Lives — and MPAA calls protests an "abuse of power."

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has looked at tomorrow’s “Internet blackout” in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)—and it sees only a “gimmick,” a “stunt,” “hyperbole,” “a dangerous and troubling development,” an “irresponsible response,” and an “abuse of power.”

“Wikipedia, reddit, and others are going dark to protest the legislation, while sites like Scribd and Google will also protest. In response, MPAA chief Chris Dodd wheeled out the big guns and started firing the rhetoric machine-gun style. 

“Only days after the White House and chief sponsors of the legislation responded to the major concern expressed by opponents and then called for all parties to work cooperatively together, some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem that all now seem to agree is very real and damaging.”

Can I interrupt for a moment? Thanks. When you complain that opponents didn’t “come to the table to find solutions”, do you mean that we didn’t give NINETY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS to congress like the MPAA? Or do you mean that we didn’t come to the one hearing that Lamar Smith held, where opponents of SOPA were refused an opportunity to comment? Help me out, here, Chris Dodd, because I’m really trying hard to understand you.

“It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.”

Oh ha ha. Ho. Ho. The MPAA talking about “skewing the facts to incite” anyone is just too much. 

“A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals.”

Except for the part where this is completely false, it’s a valid point.

“It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”

Riiiiiiight. Protesting to raise awareness of terrible legislation that will destroy the free and open Internet is an abuse of power, but buying NINETY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS worth of congressional votes is just fine.

I’m so disappointed in Chris Dodd. He was a pretty good senator, wrote some bills (like Dodd/Frank) that are genuinely helping people, and is going to be on the wrong side of every argument as the head of the MPAA. What a wasted legacy.

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I am 100% opposed to SOPA and PIPA, even though I'm one of the artists they were allegedly written to protect. I've probably lost a few hundred dollars in my life to what the MPAA and RIAA define as piracy, and that sucks, but that doesn't come close to how much money I've lost from a certain studio's creative accounting.

The RIAA and MPAA are, again, on the wrong side of history. Attempting to tear apart one of the single greatest communications achievements in human history in a misguided attempt to cling to an outdated business model instead of adapting to the changing world is a fucking crime.

A free and open Internet is as important to me as the bill of rights. I don't want the government of one country — especially the corporate-controlled United States government — to exert unilateral control over the Internet for any reason, especially not because media corporations want to buy legislation that won't do anything to actually stop online piracy, but will expand the American police state, and destroy the Internet as we know it.

Please contact your Senators and US Representatives, and tell them to vote NO on SOPA and ProtectIP. The future of the Internet — and the present we take for granted — depend on it.

62 thoughts on “Today the US Senate is considering legislation that would destroy the free and open Internet.”

  1. If you want a simple lesson on refusing to change your business model to adapt to current times, see Kodak.
    Come on MPAA and RIAA.. you can do better than this. Our voices are not simply the buzzing of flies that you can simply ignore or whisk away, as your rhetoric would imply.
    Work the problem, and ask for help. There are plenty of tech-savvy people that would be willing to assist you in finding a real solution.

  2. Wil,
    Politically and aesthetically, I’m generally inclined to agree with you…but in this case, I have to take a little exception here.
    After some tenacious debate over on BGG (also blacked-out yesterday), I’ve been convinced SOPA is a badly worded law. Sure, scrap it until we can come up with wording that more specifically targets the real pirate hubs which illegally distribute protected IP.
    But your comment on “freetards” echoes the calls I’ve heard which want to put all the onus for change on the IP producers – including you – to accomodate the real thieves out there. Business models should change because they’re in the interests of IP producers, not because some degree of piracy is now an acceptable price of doing business.
    By all means, reject bad laws. But the call for a “free and open” internet (which doesn’t exist and never has) sounds a little too much like the bawls of those who really do want to erase the IP provisions which make creative work possible.

  3. This just shows what’s been true for decades: These corporations are headed by “business experts” who lack the insight and understanding of commerce that their predecessors possessed, instead all they can do is implement and maintain an already in-use system.
    It’s like asking a company to design a completely new computer, but what they do instead is rearrange a few parts, maybe rename a few others, and then present it as a completely new design. Or put another way, these business experts are simply mechanics, not designers. They understand what they know, but can’t come up or adapt to something new.
    Unfortunately, they have a lot of money. And since all we seem to get for political leadership are politicians, these hacks have indirect political power, too. Hell, we have elected officials who openly self-identify as politicians!

  4. Well said Wil!
    I think that SOPA and PIPA are badly designed laws that use that use piracy as an exuse for the MPAA, RIAA and the American Government to get more power and censor whoever is “inconveniet”!
    Even if they would get approved the only thing they would stop is freedom, because piracy would continue!
    I’m not saying that piracy can’t be reduced(stopping piracy altogether is virtually impossible); but it would require intelligence, skill and internet knowledge, which, and I think we can all agree on this, the promoters of SOPA/PIPA certainly lack!
    As a non US citizen (I’m italian) I’m sad that the only thing I can do to stop SOPA/PIPA is raise a little awareness by spamming everyone about it through the various social networks!
    I’m unhappy because I don’t have the right to “bother” US Government representatives about this matter, even tough, if SOPA/PIPA pass, they could, and most likely would, affect me too!
    I like the Internet just the way it is: random, crazy, free and so diverse that, even though I might have stumbled upon a few things I couldn’t unsee, it allowed me to:
    fund charities I wouldn’t have ever heard of;
    join online comunities full of people who like the things that I like and that I can call friends even if I never met them in person;
    feel better watching funny cat videos after a very bad day;
    be part for the first time in a Secret Santa gift exchange(we don’t do that here T_T);
    be motivated by other people’s creativity to start arting(I know it’s not a word) again after years of greyness;
    know what a convention is, buy a ticket to my first one, meet a bunch of nerds, just like me, and make a lot of new friends that I see every year for a few selected weekends of funtimes and awesomeness;
    fund a movie, whih features actors from one of my favourite tv shows (some of whom I met at a convention erlier the same year), through Kickstarter, and watch it grow knowing that I helped;
    watch one of my favourite musicians perform live, from my computer, in my bedroom, wearing my fluffy pijama and slippers, while chatting with people from countries all around the world, and making a couple of new friends in the process;
    become less autocritical ecause I’m fucking fantastic!;
    rant as much as I need without feeling bad about what I’m saying;
    write a HUGE post starting with “Well said Wil!” and smile because I’m writing in Wil Wheaton’s website;
    and these are just a few examples!

  5. In my opinion what They call “pirates” and download movies, music or tv shows, can be divided in two categories:
    1)people who just don’t want to pay to get the content downloaded and have no intention of ever pay anything for it;
    2)people who want to be able to see the content downloded and would be willing to pay for it but can’t because they’re not born in the US.
    I’m not an expert and I have little to no idea of how the internet actually works so I would just ignore point one and stick to what I know!
    2)People who want to be able to see the content that they download and would be willing to pay for getting it at the same time, or slightly after everyone in the US, but can’t.
    a)Why would they download illegally a movie or an episode of a tv show that they like?
    Because they don’t want to wait weeks, months or years to: see them at the cinema or in tv, dubbed in their language and, more often than not, badly; be able to buy the DVD, if it gets made.
    They probably would be willing to wait, if there was a way to avoid having the watching experience ruined by getting unwanted spoilers, while continuing to go around the internet, but that’s not an option.
    b)What can e done to stop them downloading illegally?
    Here are a few suggestions that could profit(wasn’t money loss due to piracy the issue?) the entertainment buisness:
    I)They could let them pay(at the same price as people living in the US) to buy episodes for tv shows the day after they air from iTunes or Amazon!
    II)They could screen movies simultaneously worldwide, with added option of viewing them in original language with sutitles!
    III)They could release DVDs simultaneously in every country!
    IV)They could speed up the DVD releases!
    I’m sure there are a lot more but I can’t think of any at the moment, and the fact that I’m still awake at 6am might have something to do with that, so I’ll just stop here.

  6. Wow! What’s up with Typepad? I hit “post” and there was a bizarre site-quake, it asked me to type a Captcha that didn’t appear, and then it spontaneously ate my comment while I waited for the Captcha to appear!
    Hopefully this won’t post twice:
    Paramount could have stood on its IP rights and stopped Star Trek fandom in its tracks back in the early 70s — allowing fans to share unsanctioned photos, drawings, fanzines, buy and sell handmade Trekkie goods and throw unsanctioned conventions didn’t immediately enrich Paramount, so why should they allow it to occur? But allowing that early version of pirating is what created the huge-tastic cash cow that is Star Trek. Without early fannish pirating/sharing, there would be no 40 years or more of Star Trek profits for Paramount; Star Trek would be nothing more than a half-forgotten 60s show.
    It’s a pity Big Content can’t accept the fact that pirating is the kind of PR money can’t buy. Independent studies have shown that people who pirate are enthusiastic content-devourers: they go to musical events, they go to lots of movies, they shop iTunes and have huge collections of DVDs and other media-related goods. They are Big Content’s biggest fans. It’s a pity Big Content wants to make felons of them.

  7. Hey look, a petition on Wethepeople (the Whitehouse.gov petition site) asking the Obama administration to investigate Dodd and the MPAA for bribery!
    15,500 signatures in 48 hours.
    http://wh.gov/KiE
    If you have problems logging in or signing, reset your cookies, that seems to help. Share it out, lets overload this thing and get it to 25,000 by the end of the day :)

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  9. So, I won’t be using Google any longer because I don’t feel they need to know everything I look at and they certainly don’t need to be tracking it. To me, it’s too close to socialism, which seems to be getting more and more acceptable the longer our current president is in office. Sorry to offend, I know you’re a Democrat and I’m assuming you voted for him (because quite frankly, the alternative was a HORRIBLE choice and Obama spoke such sweet lies, even my husband was sucked in). In short, I don’t agree with it.

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