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Why I Am All For SOPA

January 19, 2012 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Local News  | 13 Comments

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I’m getting real sick of everyone thinking they deserve a free ride.

Internet and tech types got their collective tighty-whities in a bunch this week because Congress was voting on the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, which essentially would have made it a felony to illegally duplicate and disseminate copyrighted materials online.

In essence, stopping the free music and movie gravy train that everybody has been riding since Al Gore invented the Internet.

Wikipedia, Tumblr, and other major websites blacked out in protest. It seems that these people somehow think stealing creative works is somehow protected by the first amendment.

Well, movie thieves, sorry to break it to you but intellectual property theft was not an ideal our founding fathers set out protect.

I DON’T EXPECT YOU TO WORK FOR FREE, DON’T EXPECT ME TO

image

I am one who makes part of my living off creative endeavors. In my case it’s writing, but it’s really not much different than music or photographs or anything else that creative people use their time, effort, talents and energy to produce.

So I NEVER want anything I’ve worked for to just be given away, unless the people who have paid me to write it deem that appropriate. Now this site is free, and the operators choose to give away the content. Fine. They pay me and after that how to make money off what I do is their decision.

BUT if they decided this should be a pay site, and I found some site reproducing my articles and GIVING it away? I’d be PISSED. Like when some on this site were trying to scan my Cosmo articles and post them on here. Uh-uh. Not cool. You pay for it or you don’t read it or you come over to my house and read the copy (which I paid $8 for) on my coffee table.

image

WITHOUT INCENTIVE, THE TALENTED WON’T CULTIVATE TALENT

So I’m actually all for SOPA . I really don’t think it’s fair to the creative people who spend a lot of time and energy producing stuff to have it devalued and given away for free. If there’s no monetary incentive to producing quality work, then it will cease to exist. And that is damaging to our culture.

I don’t download music for free, unless there’s no way I can find it on a pay site. I don’t stream movies (except on Netflix, which I pay for) and I don’t download TV shows or movies. The arts and entertainment are based on the concept that you have to PAY for them. If we don’t, it’s only going to get worse as talented people will find more lucrative ways to use their talents.

DON’T GO HIRING A LAWYER JUST YET

Now I understand some are trembling at the thought of prison terms for illegally downloading music. But let’s stop and think for a minute about laws vs. enforcement of laws.

image

The police in Miami have a hard time arresting drunk drivers and drug smugglers. You really think Metro-Dade and the FBI are gonna spend any of their resources arresting a kid for lip-syncing to Justin Beiber on YouTube? Sure, the penalty is there as a deterrent. But I’d be shocked in anyone ever served time under SOPA.

Internet piracy is a serious epidemic affecting the creative industries. The civil suit route is obviously not working, so what other options do we have? Lacking some criminal teeth, what’s to stop everyone from stealing our work forever? Illegal downloading and streaming is theft. And last I checked, theft is a crime. So why are we even having this discussion?

ALL THESE PICTURES ARE FROM CREATIVE COMMONS

And before you all jump on me as a hypocrite, yes, I admit, I’ve used other people’s pictures on this site. If it were criminal, I would not. We get cease and desists occasionally. And we cease and desist. And if SOPA were passed I would find other ways of posting images. Common use sites, my own pictures, or other resources. I’m willing to give up my hijacked photos so that we can stop the widespread theft of creative work.

You all are too used to getting a free ride. Having to pay for things that other people worked to produce shouldn’t be looked at as irregular. Rather, it should be the norm. You want to watch a movie? Pay the ten bucks and go see it. You wanna hear a song? Shell out the $1.09 and get it on iTunes. Stealing my work is not free speech. It’s theft. And all SOPA is doing is reminding us of that fact.

“SOPA” picture from http://intergalacticrobot.blogspot.com/
“Sax Player” picture from http://www.flickr.com/photos/derek_b/2459827837/
“CR Poster” picture from http://www.cyberlawcentre.org/unlocking-ip/blog/labels/abi.html
“CSI” picture from http://www.flickr.com/photos/popculturegeek/4691324881/
“Blob” picture from http://www.cyberlawcentre.org/unlocking-ip/blog/labels/infringement.html
All Creative Commons licensed

Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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13 Comments on

"Why I Am All For SOPA"

Doug says:

I disagree.  We have laws in place now that protect copyright, so nobody’s getting a free ride the way things are now.  This is essentially about shutting down any website that doesn’t prevent users from posting a copyrighted photo, or quote, or link to some other site—a site like the one we work for.  To me, sites like youtube are like libraries—we share what we see with others and aren’t trying to make a buck with it.  The copyright panic is a red herring to me, a pretext to shut down any speech that the government might find objectionable.

Posted on 01/19/2012 at 1:43 PM

Eric says:

Matt, I also disagree. There’s more to SOPA than just shutting down Pirate’s Bay. Like Doug (above) said, “This is essentially about shutting down any website that doesn’t prevent users from posting a copyrighted photo…”.
That would also affect any site that linked to a site posting copyrighted material, i.e. Wikipedia, Google, etc., etc., collapsing the entire structure of the internet as we know it today.

In essence I agree with combating piracy, but there needs to be a way to accomplish that without stopping the internet.

Posted on 01/19/2012 at 2:30 PM

Juana says:

I freely admit I do not understand all the intricacies of either PIPA or SOPA.  I am doing what I can to educate myself.  I think you might want to do the same.  Neither one is going to stop piracy.  Both will succeed in hindering the future of the internet and the freedoms given to Americans.  There are ways to help combat piracy.  These bills are not the answer; they barely address that issue.

As you mentioned, a majority of your own blogs are in violation.  I randomly selected a few of your previous entries, and only this one credits the source of the images used.  I think, in support of SOPA/PIPA, you should remove every one of your posts which are not in compliance. 

Regardless of your stance on piracy, poorly written legislation is not the solution to any problem.  This link is for another blog post by Reddit which examines the bills and the implications surrounding their passage. You might want to check it out.

  http://blog.reddit.com/2012/01/technical-examination-of-sopa-and.html

Posted on 01/19/2012 at 8:27 PM

spinn says:

this is not about piracy at all. It is about the government maintaining the ability to shut down communications and limit dissenting speech. This government fears a revolution and will do all it can to isolate anyone that disagrees with or understands their true agenda. This is about limiting free speech and circumventing the first amendment. This President does not like the constitution and is using this as an end around.

Posted on 01/19/2012 at 9:46 PM

Scott says:

I approach music and entertainment via the internet the same way as you (which is commendable?): I pay for it.  But I disagree entirely with this statement:  “If there’s no monetary incentive to producing quality work, then it will cease to exist.”  Artists create regardless.

Posted on 01/19/2012 at 10:47 PM

Christy Degeorgis says:

Matt, really? You want useful internet sites shut down under a law with the premise that movie and music moguls don’t make enough money? And there is no reason to steal music now with spotify. It’s free and the artists get paid. I especially love youtube and see that get shut down would be bad..and our site too! Listen, this law is not designed to protect people like you, it’s designed to protect large companies.

Posted on 01/20/2012 at 3:58 PM

Alex de Carvalho says:

What █████████ the government ██ ███ █████████ █████████ and █████████ companies are █████████ ██ hiding ██ ███████████ from you ██ ██████. 

[This comment has been found in violation of H.R. 3261, S.O.P.A.]

Posted on 01/20/2012 at 4:32 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Well it looks like it’s a moot issue anyway. But one I don’t think it’s going away. The issue of piracy and illegal streaming and downloading needs to be addressed as it really is theft.

Perhaps this law was too far-reaching to be publicly palatable, but I also don’t think the government is trying to keep us down. And sometimes, what’s good for the rich and large corporations is also good for the little guy. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Posted on 01/21/2012 at 9:39 PM

Cheo_D says:

As others said, there already do exist laws protecting copyrights online.  The recent takedown of Megaupload shows that if there’s the will and the resources to do the necessary policework, they can be enforced.  The SOPA/PIPA legislation’s fatal flaw was not just that it would front-load the process to a “guilty until proven innocent” standard by which at any point the entire domain within which an infringement happens could be blocked first, questions asked and answered later; but also that in the ISPs’ view the way it expected that to be done could compromise the security and efficiency of the system.  It’s not just about serving time under SOPA, it’s also about having sites become slowed down to a crawl until everything anyone uploads, including third-party users, is vetted for compliance.

Posted on 01/22/2012 at 11:57 AM

Lauren says:

Matt, did you read the law before you posted this article?  The law provided an opportunity based solely on the allegation of copyright infringement that a site could be taken down. NO due process prior to the take down, just an allegation.  Basically this is like China where sites are blocked for alleged inappropriate content.

And we aren’t just talking about MegaUpload here…this law would affect facebook, google +, twitter, youtube and any other major social network site.  It placed the burden on the sites that host user to look through EVERY piece of content that is placed on the cite to determine whether it is a copyright infringement.  Think about how many photos, videos, links are posted to Facebook everyday and the amount of man power that would be needed to review each piece of material cited?  Most of these sites could not feasibly meet with this requirement. 

As for your argument that the individual is not ACTUALLY going to get jail time over this, because law enforcement will not care.  I don’t think the fact that something may not happen should be support for allowing an over broad law that gives the government more power than is should have to regulate an issue.

Additionally safe guards do exist to protect copyrighted and intellectual property.  Specifically the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 512).  This act provides an opportunity for individuals or companies who believe their copyrighted material is being hosted illegally to request that this material be taken down and the website hosting the material must review, take down any copyrighted material or risk prosecution.  Yes it is true under this act that youtube video of Lady Gaga might stay up an extra week or two while youtube goes through its complaints, but it is a far better remedy than shutting down all of youtube for not reviewing every video as it comes in.

Finally, you should consider all of the articles and posts you have put up over the years, which include photos and videos.  I am sure that at least 1-2 of these were copyrighted and you violated the law by putting them up on miamibeach411.com.  Based on SOPA the whole cite could be taken down because you wanted to put up a pic of a girl in a bikini at spring break that some photographer copyrighted 2 years ago. 

You are right that it appears SOPA and PIPA are dead and the issue is moot.  But this is not an issue that is going to go away completely.  No one (even the sites that protested these laws) think that copyright infringement isn’t a problem.  But that does not mean we should create laws that impose unreasonable burdens on innocent websites and affect free speech.  As a journalist you should recognize the importance free speech has in this country and why it should be protected.

Posted on 01/23/2012 at 12:48 PM

Lauren says:

Read this…it explains the law.

Posted on 01/23/2012 at 1:16 PM

Joe B. says:

To the author:

While I appreciate your commitment to honesty, and yes I believe everyone should be paid for their work, you’ve missed the point of this law entirely. The part about taking down a site WITHOUT DUE PROCESS for merely infringing on something copyrighted is the disturbing example. To illustrate with an example that seems ridiculous (but in point of fact is actually true), check this out: http://theoatmeal.com/sopa

Posted on 01/24/2012 at 10:42 AM

Matthew Jones says:

Interesting read. It’s nice to read post and comments on this topic as more and more people understand what SOPA really is and how this may affect everyone who is somehow using or dependent in the use of the Internet.

Posted on 01/25/2012 at 5:17 PM

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