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.

===

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. I plan on abusing my corporate power by staying off the nets tomorrow, well as soon as I’m done writing this I guess. Oh wait, I’m not a corporate power, just a pawn…Oh well I guess being a pawn that believes in freedom is better than being a mushroom in the government policy department.

  2. Done and done. I’ve written and publicly posted messages to my congressfolk and pointed out to them that “someone claims you’re guilty so you’re banned and good luck with trying to prove you’re innocent” doesn’t exactly jive with the “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law” sentiments of the Constitution. And I’ll send them a little love note every day just to remind them. Hmm, I am going to have to have a talk with my 14 year old and point to this when next she complains that Social Studies is “boring”.

  3. Didn’t Obama already say he would never let something like this pass? I know he may not get reelected, but by then, wouldn’t the Senators and Reps forgotten about it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this isn’t a big deal. Cause it is.
    “I’ve probably lost a few hundred dollars in my life to what the MPAA and RIAA define as piracy…” Think of it this way, you probably gained some fans due to the piracy, who will go on and actually buy your stuff. ;)

  4. Obama has said a lot of things, only to completely abandon them when it was time to actually do something. It's one of the biggest reasons I'm so disappointed in him.

  5. Makes you wonder how far this legislation would go without the NINETY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS, huh?
    Yet another fundamental issue that is really all about money in politics. We have the Supreme Court to thank for opening the floodgates, but at least we have a way to close them again: http://www.Amend2012.org.

  6. Corporate/political America has been this deadly beast for a long time now, but it’s only now they’ve stripped away the facade of democracy to reveal what Frank Zappa once called, “A freely elected fascist state.”
    Make no mistake, Dodd (and his ilk) have taken their gloves off. Be prepared. This isn’t going to be easy to deal with, nor is this going to be the last salvo in the war. This is just the beginning, and it’s going to get much worse before it gets better.
    Best of luck to true Americans everywhere.

  7. Well said, Wil. Especially this:
    “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.”

  8. I’m not disappointed in any member of Congress or the President. Disappointment implies that you had expectations of them they didn’t meet. I expect them to take the lazy, corrupt, or cowardly way out of everything. Therefore, no reason to feel disappointed as they meet my expectation every time.
    I’m also not disappointed in the MPAA and RIAA. I heard a few years ago somebody was bringing an antitrust suit against them for their monopoly behavior. I assume it’s not been successful.
    This post was well said.

  9. Well said Wil. Other than looking around this morning to see who is participating in the black out, I will probably stay off the internets for the rest of the day to show my support.

  10. As usual, Wil, you rock.
    I do agree with Eric S. Mueller: I’m not disappointed in Congress, RIAA, or MPAA. They’ve shown themselves to be out of touch, incompetent, and completely clueless on the very matters in which they claim expertise. I expect them to do the wrong thing, and the only question is how to stop them.
    Dodd is, bluntly, just another old guy who’s been sold a bill of goods.

  11. The House is delaying SOPA/PIPA discussions by a month:
    http://www.dailywireless.org/2012/01/17/stop-online-piracy-act-delayed-to-feb/
    So there’s still time to organize a broader response to the bill.
    Also, to Chris Leuchtturm: Speaking as a Canadian (Ontario), I can tell you, things aren’t all they’re cracked up to be here under the Harper Government, who has a whole lot more in common with the not-so-benevolent-dictatorship of Bush Jr than most of us would like to admit.

  12. Thanks for putting this so succinctly, and for swearing. I think swearing in matters of politics is entirely underused and long for politicians who are strong enough to call something bullshit. Made my voice heard a couple of times on this one, so cheers. =)

  13. 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.
    THIS! EXACTLY THIS!
    This is my biggest argument against the MPAA/RIAA. The world changed; they didn’t. They expect the same business model that worked pre-Internet to work post- and that just doesn’t hold water.
    Artists have new, free/cheap avenues to reach a wider audience without the assistance of Big Music/Big Movies. When it became clear that artists no longer “needed” them, Sony, Island, etc., should have adapted to include new/upgraded services that kept their companies relevant with new technology. Instead, they chose to entrench themselves in the Old Way of Doing Things and punish anyone who moved on without them.
    When the world changes, you can either adapt or die. I guess we know which choice the MPAA/RIAA have made.

  14. One of my goals over the last several months has been to be more vocal with my elected representatives. OWS, PIPA, SOPA, and the Defense Act (with it’s awful, awful detainment clause) have been on my list and I have pounded my representatives with questions and pleas to do the right thing. For the most part I have received patronizing responses. But I will acknowledge that I have received at least one response that said they were doing everything in their power to stop these horrible pieces of legislation.
    188 out of 200 Senators passed the defense act. 188 out of 200 Senators see no problem with indefinite detainment because “it is only meant to be used against members of Al Quaeda”. Yeah, so call me a member, assume I’m a terrorist, lock me up essentially forever. {middle finger}
    Responses to PIPA and SOPA have been drooling with purchased rhetoric about how they are necessary for protecting businesses. Let’s ignore the fact that most of the things that are pirated are inherently messed up. For example, The Matrix DVD. It’s my favorite example. There is a great comic out there showing all the crap one must, and I do mean must, go through on the DVD just to watch a movie you purchased. But pirate it, and you can just watch the movie. The Terminator 2 Blue-ray is very similar. I timed it to 7 minutes from the moment the disc actually load until I am actually watching the movie. Businesses don’t want to reform and be useful or competitive, they want to be lazy, complacent, and pay off the government to protect their laziness. {my other middle finger}
    Responses to OWS were so ridiculous, I should have posted them. They may as well have said “we don’t care, it doesn’t affect our daily business of screwing the country”. {I’m out of middle fingers… dammit!}
    But I won’t stop writing them. Perhaps if they are told enough times that something is categorically wrong they’ll actually consider that to be a possibility rather than the buzzing of a gnat who elected their sorry butt into office.
    At least I know who I’m voting against come the next election. Sad to say that, but there are people I definitely cannot vote for now.

  15. I’m not sure where you got that 188 out of 200 Senators thing… There are only 100 senators in the US Senate, and they voted 97-3 for NDAA.

  16. You’d think the entertainment industry would have spent that 94 million dollars to come up with innovative ways to combat piracy without needing to get Government thugs to protect their monopolies.

  17. What we are dealing with is an industry that is desperately grasping at a perceived loss of its right to reap the rewards of its work. That’s fair. That’s understandable.
    The movie makers, musicians, and software publishers have every right to earn money for their work. However, they have no right to make the first amendment subject to their bottom lines.
    While some legislative action is probably needed to curtail digital piracy, what is most likely needed is for the industry to adapt to changing technology. Don’t forget these are the same people who tried to sue to prevent the introduction of home video to the marketplace over the same concerns of piracy.

  18. I was with you up until the bit about Dodd-Frank being a bill that “helps people”.
    It helps people exactly the same way SOPA helps people — by replacing freedom with government control. Why is government interference with the internet a threat, but government interference in a free economy “helping people”?
    I’d prefer freedom from tyranny in my financial life as well as on the internet.
    Having the government decide what financial transactions should be restricted is no more acceptable than having them decide what internet content should be restricted.
    Remember, nobody in Congress is out there looking out for you — they will make decisions based on who kicks in the next 94 million dollars. So Dodd-Frank isn’t about protecting you, the consumer, it’s about protecting the people who funnel money into the right pockets.

  19. Very good article. But the problem with government is beyond the influence purchased by lobbyists such as the MPAA. The influence of the political elite, disguised as our elected representatives, is routinely bought, paid for, and traded by superpacs – who have no obligation to reveal the individuals who are truly in power.
    Interesting that the mainstream media has not given SOPA much coverage until this week. Gee, wonder why.
    There is going to be a revolution in this country by the time the elections are held. The mask is off, the electorate are realizing how little power we actually hold when all that is necessary to win is media manipulation to keep people scared and divided.
    I am old enough to remember 1968. The coming revolution will make that look like the good ol days. It is very unsettling to grow old in a country that is falling into such evil hands.

  20. Wil,
    Thanks for making this statement. Two quick questions:
    My impressions from my limited contact with people in any branch of “old school media”, is that apart from the true nerds such as yourself and John Scalzi, most of them believe the MPAA party line about piracy, have a general fear that they are being ripped off left and right by the interwebs, and are surrounded by other people in the media industry who confirm their fears rather than (as you are doing here) educating them. It’s not that they are bad people at all, they just don’t understand how anyone could be opposed to rules which are ostensibly about them getting their due.
    1) Is this your impression as well?; and if so
    2) What can be done about this? Has anyone mounted a concerted campaign to educate actors, writers, photographers, etc. about how the Internet works and why trying to kill it is not in their best interests?

  21. Anecdotally, I've observed that the older a person is, the more likely they are to uncritically buy the MPAA/RIAA party line. The hardest thing in the world, even for me as recently as a couple years ago, is to understand and adapt to the reality that there are people (we call them "freetards") who simply won't ever pay for something, so we have to just let that perceived loss of income go. The way to truly combat piracy, as Gabe Newell said, is to give your customers better service than the pirates: don't use DRM, don't make people sit through endless commercials and bullshit before they can watch the DVD they legally purchased, don't region lock legal purchases, etc.
    It isn't easy, at all, to accept the changing world, but speaking as an actor who relies on residuals and merchandise royalties, I can say unequivocally that creative accounting, reality TV, and vertical integration of media companies is more of a threat to my earnings than any kind of piracy.

  22. Mainstream Media is still ignoring SOPA and PIPA. IGN hasn't mentioned it at all, even when it was a pretty big story in gaming that Notch was blacking out today. I wonder if IGN being owned by News Corp (a main sponsor of SOPA/PIPA) has anything to do with that? CNN has ignored it. I wonder if CNN being owned by Time Warner has anything to do with that?
    Six companies own the mainstream media in America, and this is just one example of why that's bad for Americans.

  23. I do feel like the piracy is a strawman argument they’re using the leverage in laws that eliminate this significant threat to their business model, a threat that’s exponentially more serious than any they’ve fought and then embraced in the past.
    Ben Heckendorn (@benheck on Twitter) has said it best on the effect it would have. “SOPA: Ever try for YouTube revenue sharing? It’s hard proving you have a right to your own videos. Now imagine that for everything you post.”
    It’s bad enough, I’ve made the decision to step away from television, movies, music, and video games. They don’t get any more of my money. “No second chances,” as the Doctor has said.
    Sadly, Wil, this means I will miss out on your future acting work, but if they insist on using piracy’s collateral damage to kill the single best content delivery system ever devised, I’m going to have to insist that they no longer have any claim to the money in my wallet.
    And if they do succeed in killing the internet as a content delivery engine? I’ll find something else to entertain myself with.

  24. I signed up just to post this. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
    As a rational person with a degree in Economics, I can understand losses from copyright and wanting to protect their intellectual property. What I don’t agree with is how these bills go about it with censorship and “big brother” monitoring rather than attempting to solve the actual problem.

  25. Louis CK himself proved in his recent stand up production that people are willing to pay a fair price for something they see worth it rather than pirate it. He did this by charging $5 for his latest performance to download or stream with no restrictions, DRM, or anyhing of the sort. I openly supported this (and I easily could have went to a torrent site to get it) and many others did too, so much so that in a few days he earned over a million dollars.
    Fairness and open competition will always resonate better with people than monopolies and government regulation/restrictions; at least in terms of business.

  26. I’ve written all my congress people, signed two online petitions, texted all my friends, basically spammed facebook twice today (before and after work). And I still feel like I need to do more, need to get people to understand. Thanks for posting about this and talking about it. Even though I feel like our protests will go unheeded, at least I got my voice out there (even if it won’t be heard…)

  27. ███ ████████ ██████ ██████████ ██ ████ ██ ████ ██████████ ██. ███ ███!
    (This comment has been deemed a violation of H.B. 3261, SOPA)

  28. Well said, Wil – especially the part about adapting. Seriously, people. Your business model is outdated. That is a far bigger risk to you than piracy ever will be.
    Anyway. I stand against PIPA and SOPA and have contacted my Congresspeople. I will lend my voice to the masses railing against this. I’m not sure it will be heard, but at least I am shouting. It’s all I can do. Maybe if enough of us do so, we can change the winds. I’m worried that we can’t, and that the big wind machine that money can buy will blow us away, but I still have to try.
    Thanks for helping get the word out, Wil. If you keep fighting, I’ll fight alongside. And maybe one day, we will be electing you and Cory Doctorow as keepers of our net. You know never know. ;)

  29. Very well put and to the point, Wil. I have been shocked the last couple of days, especially today, at how little people know about SOPA/PIPA. I have had to explain what they are a dozen times in the office today, only to be met with blank stares and shrugs of indifference.

  30. Today was a good day. We the people, got several members of congress who were sponsors of both bills to remove their support.
    Obama needs even more pressure applied to him on this matter, as you point out Wil he tends to say one thing and not follow through 100%. Oregonians managed to get all but one of their representatives to come out against them. Now we just need to work on the rest.

  31. Also, if I had never pirated that MP3 at 128 bit rate, I would have never bought the same MP3 for .99 to get a better 320 bit rate version (because we all know that RIAA would have never offered MP3s to buy, or would sell 128 BR at best).
    If I had never pirated that movie, I would never had seen it, made it my favorite, and bought the DVD (making the MPAA $5 or so) or bought a streaming copy (saving the MPAA the cost of physical manufacturing and physical distribution). We all know that without pirating the MPAA would still be selling only DVDs.
    If I had never pirated that song which I like from my childhood that the RIAA REFUSES to release, I would have never bought into that artist’s later discography.
    I could give more examples, but you’ve already lost interest. ;)

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