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Old 8th December 2011
Gear Guru
charles maynes's Avatar

SOPA and Politics-

After listening to Robert Levine defend SOPA on a radio broadcast-

I feel compelled to comment on the overall discussion that has been ongoing regarding it-

First, he is a marvelous speaker- he articulates the needs of the creative community far more effectively than the voices I have been hearing, and he addressed my principal reservations to a degree which I am quite confident is consistent wih free speech issues-

that being said- I think we have some things to look at-

Theft- Copyright violation is theft, plain and simple. There is no justification for it, and one cannot use the poverty excuse for something which is a non-essential item of life- Software, films and music and other items which are infringed upon are typically discretionary purchases, and ones economic situation doesnt, and cannot justify the act of stealing them.

To hear what I will call the SOPA camp speak on these things is like being attacked by a pitbull- Which in some cases may be required- but the general tenor is that anyone concerned with the scope of the legislation and its sometimes vague language, which was acknowledged by Levene, being called a shill, or a pirate or a theif is doing the group a dis-service, and its downright insulting- As one who has been called this directly, I would say **** you and the horse you rode in on-. The core legislation, which seeks to deny funding to sites and entities which commercially exploit both illegal media and the people seeking it, is great- I have no problem with bringing as much hurt to that group as is humanly possible. They deserve every ounce of it, and their disregard, and arrogance in doing so should be revolting to everyone.

The problem I see, is that those here- seem to so focused on that core, that they minimize the more vague and lesser related aspects of the legislation-

At its core, SOPA is about IP theft via electronic means and its prevention within the constraints of international law. It has other provisions though that go beyond that scope- If it were limited to the degree of going after only the aforementioned core issue, I dont think anyone could rationally be against it-

The reality however is that when politics get wrapped up in it- and the governments own frailties in reallife operation, some of us, get concerned of where a legitimate prosecution might end up as an extra Constitutional fishing expedition- This, I believe is the reason rights groups have voiced their concern over its reach and potential abuse- its not a matter of making false claims against infringing sites- its a matter of the 4th amendment being honored in search and seizure. That language, as Levene commented can be refined and focused to keep the spirit of the bill pure, and I hope it is considerate folks like Levene who will be consulted on that, not some of the people who speak so loudly here.

SOPA in concept is a great thing- the problem I see that so many reiterate endlessly is that this is best thing we have available to us- Thats all well and good, but if we hold it up to a standard similar to the death penalty idea, we have to ask how much collateral damage is acceptable- how many people is it ok to errantly kill for their alleged crimes? If you are personally touched by that, most would say zero- If you are not, one would probably have little concern for it. The point being that if the law is carefully constructed, and has in place reasonable oversight on the prosecution side it will be great- Talking about it, and making it great is important- However, as has been stated regarding DMCA, a law which also was controversial and thought to be a strong firewall against IP theft, we saw that significant loopholes were purposefully included which led us need something with more teeth. To those linguistically challenged, the death penalty point is an analogy- and it seems there are a few who have a weakness in understanding what an analogy is and its function....

We also see that after 13 years, we haven't seen the DMCA significantly amended to address those issues- probably because those loopholes were not intended to be fixed in the first place.

the battle for protection of IP is one worth fighting for, because the stakes are so high- I think patience is required, and we shouldn't be looking for a quick fix but we should be looking to see a rugged, clear and concise set of protections as the goal for any legislation which protects artists and content owners rights to be compensated for their work.