My Stance on SOPA and PIPA

As an author, I’ve had my work stolen. That’s lost money…people who stole an article or short story or novella and put it up on their site, denying my publishers the money they deserve and (sometimes) denying me the advertising revenue cut that makes up online royalties. That’s money in the bank.

So what a law like this is trying to convince all of us is that I should be willing to trade my internet freedoms, and the freedoms of everyone else in the world (that’s right…the world, because the bill specifically is set up to go after people in other countries, too) for money. Cold hard cash. Anyone supporting this bill is saying that they will trade freedom, for them and everyone else, for cash. That makes them traitors of the highest order…traitors to not just any one nation, but the species as a whole.

I’m not saying that the current state of online piracy is acceptable. But the market itself is dealing with this problem. Services like Spotify and Hulu allow all the convenience of piracy, but actually charge reasonable prices and allow for a return for the creators. There is no way to pirate or steal this content because of the way the systems are built. A system like this for books, articles, and stories would finish out the problem for writers, and a similar system for graphical art would serve in the same capacity for artists.

Now, there are complaints about such systems, in that they are not going to give the various industries involved the same kinds of profit margins that they have become used to over the last century or so. That’s tough. As an author, I am one of those people. However, if it comes down to either getting nothing, because it’s all being pirated, or making something by charging prices for content that people are willing to pay, I’ll take something any day.

Publishers, the RIAA, and the MPAA need to come to terms with this. They no longer have the control. They don’t get to dictate terms. If they won’t be reasonable, they’ll be pirated into oblivion. If they will be reasonable, however, they can continue to exist. The consumers of content and the industries producing that content are in an adversarial situation so long as the industry is determined to charge unreasonable prices. People pirate movies because it costs an unreasonable amount to see them in the theater. People pirate music (less now) because it costs an unreasonable amount of money to buy music. And people pirate books because it costs an unreasonable amount of money to buy them. This isn’t all producers and publishers…but it is the majority of them.

For a very long time, these people had the public over the barrel, and they took advantage of that, creating this adversarial situation. They knew they had all the power in the situation because they controlled the means of production and distribution. Now anyone with a computer can publish and distribute for so close to free as to be negligible. So far, the middle-men of the industry have done their best to maintain their control, acting as gatekeepers to keep self-produced and self-published works from being take seriously, but that is working less and less. What it comes down to is that if the industries won’t adapt to the new situation, and the lower profit margins, then they won’t have any profit margins at all.

So right now, and for the last decade or so, these industries have been trying to use the law to maintain their power over the situation. For the most part, they have failed. But now they find themselves hand-in-hand with an increasingly authoritarian government, who will embrace any excuse to make more laws that give them more power. And SOPA and PIPA are the outcome of this unholy collaboration between those who would turn this country into a fascism and those who want to keep control of the means of production within the art and entertainment industries.

So understand this, people: when you support SOPA or PIPA, you are not protecting the rights of creators to profit from their creation. You are saying that money is enough to buy your rights, and the rights of people in other countries all over the world. This isn’t about cash, this is about freedom.

So look around. Think about how many atrocities have been justified with “they’re fighting to protect our freedoms”. The enemy tries to take away our freedoms…that’s what makes them the enemy, and if those people are within our own country, that makes them traitors to everything this country is supposed to represent. So remember what we are supposed to do to those who would threaten the freedoms and liberties of American citizens. We haven’t had a real enemy who could do that militarily since WWII…now we do, and they are our own legislators and the greedy, self-involved organizations determined to maintain their profit margins, no matter what it costs.

Ask yourself this…can you trust the government not to misuse and abuse the powers given to it? Honestly, no matter your stance, Left or Right, ask yourself that question. Can you trust them with the power they are asking for…the power to control the most powerful tool for education, free speech, and free assembly to ever exist? Look around…there is really only one answer to this question, and it’s “no”. It’s not a question of will SOPA and PIPA be abused to control the flow of information and interaction through the internet; it’s a question of how.

Don’t allow this trade of our liberty for money (or rather, the promise of money). Oppose SOPA and PIPA in every way possible.

8 thoughts on “My Stance on SOPA and PIPA

  1. Krissy

    I think that yesterday was one of the truly great days in history, nothing so big has happened worldwide since the war.

    People putting their sites “on strike” and standing together showed that we can be heard!

    One thing to note though, the people in power dont really understand what it is that they are fighting and because of that it is possible that the law/act will be slightly changed and a second attempt to push it through will be made, dont think its over!

    UNITE!

    Reply
  2. Astro Gremlin

    Niel, couldn’t agree more. I am a writer and have great concern for artists and authors who are being ripped off. But trading away freedoms for a quick fix is not a viable solution to piracy. Sadly, our lawmakers have lost credibility since they take campaign contributions from interested parties and don’t have the technical grasp (and don’t want to bother consulting with experts). Look how they scatter when confronted by public opinion. Not much conviction to “protect our freedoms” now. Not really leadership or expertise. Just following the directions that come with the campaign money.

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  3. Brian D. Hawkins

    It’s not even trading Freedom for money, it’s giving Freedom away for nothing. No one wins with bills like SOPA and PIPA other than large corporations and their lawyers. When person or company can shut down a site with simple accusations or for using any measure of copy-written material, including background audio clips, social sharing or even the “likeness” of content, everyone loses. Anyone that believes the government has the solution to any problem is simply fooling themselves.

    I am very impressed with recent demonstrations worldwide on every level and on many issues that prove “power of the people” actually means something and can be effective. I’m sure this issue will raise it’s ugly head again but now everyone involved know the people aren’t always sitting on their hands in a dark corner.

    Reply
  4. Loldri

    I think your views are the same as the views of most, it really was a great day and one of true importance to the moden world. In 200 years time the Internet blackout will be taught as part of history lessons in school, that is how important it is!

    Reply
  5. Rein T.

    Yes. This SOPA is obviously stealing people’s freedom and you’re right, they’re traitors of their own country. Which big sites supported anti-SOPA campaign by the way?

    Thanks for this awareness. Nice post!

    -Rein

    Reply
  6. Linda

    I believe that developing a solid system is a better alternative compared to SOFA or FIFA. The government is showing how they want to be in control all of the time. A system that will be fair would lessen the commotion and maybe allow everyone to benefit.

    Reply
    1. Neal Jansons Post author

      And what would a “fair” system look like? Fairness is in the eye of the beholder, and whatever system is attempted will be subverted and used for the usual motivations of government and the ultra-rich. Sorry…no legislation on this issue is good legislation. The internet needs to remain as free as possible. With all its warts, the benefits of this chaotic insanity-filled virtual world outweigh any short-term benefits to some government or another.

      Reply

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