Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The SOPA hearings are today, and of course you all are writing and emailing and calling your government representatives to let them know that YOU READ BLOGS and BLOGS ARE UNDER ATTACK! SAVE THE BLOGGERS! THIS IS HORRIBLE! Free speech is under attack by corporations.

I can't say it any clearer than that. Please help.

SOPA is the Stop Internet Piracy Act introduced in Congress. This will keep people like me and you from reproducing forgotten 70s songs or peace symbols or movie reviews or (ahhhh, here it is) political criticism on our blogs. Here is the Judiciary Committee description, from the horse's mouth, so to speak:

The purpose of this legislative hearing is to examine issues that relate to H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was introduced October 26, 2011. The Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261) builds on the Pro IP Act of 2008 and the Senate’s Protect IP Act introduced earlier this year. The bill modernizes our criminal and civil statutes to meet new IP enforcement challenges and protect American jobs. The proposal reflects a bipartisan and bicameral commitment toward ensuring that law enforcement and job creators have the necessary tools to protect American intellectual property from counterfeiting and piracy
Twenty-one Members have joined House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), IP Subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) in sponsoring the bill. Additional information about the bill can be found on the House Judiciary Committee website here.
And check out that list of corporate sponsors. Is that the 1% or what? When I see BigPharma, I know what side my bread is buttered on, as my grandma used to say.

You can't criticize something if you can't directly quote it. And of course, this is primarily what is intended, despite the okey-doke from the mega-rich supporters of this bill. In fact, my quote above is an example of exactly what could be legally blocked: Quoting the powerful at length (and possibly even linking).

Ironically, something bloggers invented to make SURE we got it right, that we were using people's actual words, the veritable lingua franca of the internet, would be seriously curtailed or even abolished. In practice, big blogs with lawyers and money (HuffPo, DailyKos, etc) would probably be allowed to continue, but small blogs like mine? Badly harmed, and possibly blocked for good. Needless to say, small blogs are mostly local. My blog is possibly the only left-wing blog in upstate South Carolina, surely the only one that has been around for years. (Do the words "sitting duck" mean anything to you?)

At left: The late Ben Masel, free speech activist and Yippie extraordinaire, who would have been in Washington today, if he'd heard about this. (We miss you, man.)

Email your Senator and Congressperson NOW. I just emailed Senator Lindsey Graham (regarding the related IP law introduced in the Senate) and got this predictable, canned response:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate the opportunity to hear from you.

In spite of the high volume of mail I receive daily, I look forward to reviewing your correspondence and providing a personal response as soon as possible.

As we continue our work in the 112th Congress, I look forward to supporting our troops in the War on Terror, repairing our economy and creating jobs, strengthening Social Security, lowering the tax burden on American families, and making the federal government more accountable and efficient.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of further assistance to you or your family, and if you need immediate assistance, please call my office at 202-224-5972. If your correspondence pertains to a scheduling request, please fax your request to (202) 224-3808.


Lindsey Graham
So helpful, as always.

Or maybe he wants us shut down too. I can certainly see why. ;)

Other blogs participating include Boing Boing (who tipped us all off! They deserve a medal!), Daily Kos, Feminist Critics (HI BALLGAME!), Tech dirt (who point out that sports bloggers will be particularly harmed), Huffington Post, Law Librarian Blog, threat post, DO THE WINDY THING, Blogowogo, Electronic Frontier Foundation, (sign their petition), Kittywampus, Fight for the Future, and many more. You should read them all.

Ballgame also links this gem: Lying on the Internet could soon be a federal crime. Good Lord, I think THAT could shut the whole internet down good and proper, wouldn't it? Will it include politicians? Entertainers who claim their product is good, when it's shit? Wait, will OPINIONS be judged true or false too? I see this going down scary Orwellian paths.

And I reserve the right to lie about my weight online! They CAN'T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME!!!


Sevesteen said...

I would have more to say about this if I were on a real computer, but neither of these proposed bills is within the spirit of the constitution, even the watered down version we currently use. Severe violations of due process, free speech and free press.

JoJo said...

I was wondering though, if you don't receive any proceeds from posting something that you can watch or read free on the internet anyway, then is it really piracy? You are sharing something for free, so what do they care? It would be like me charging someone to make a mix tape (YES I SAID TAPE). I can't sell all those bands' music like that. But I can give it away.

SnowdropExplodes said...

Not USAian, but it's one of the few Avaaz petitions I signed, they claim that a show of international disapproval could help (don't know if that's true or not).

There are, of course, fair use provisions in copyright laws for the purpose of comment (and ridicule!) However, these don't seem to include using songs etc as a comment on something else, which is something I see a lot in blogging.

The scary thing is, it looks like it's introducing a version of the "Cleanfeed" censorship that currently afflicts the UK and Australia, although aimed primarily at protecting businesses rather than morals. You won't even know that your favourite site has been censored, you'll only know that it gives you an error message when you try to access it.

D. said...

(I go away for a day, and the politicians try to steal the Internet.)


Tim Reed said...

Hey! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing! Fosamax Femur Fracture Lawsuits.

Ann O'Dyne said...

if the creeps prevail, and then we all simultaneously block quote something anyhow, how will 'they' be able to sue us all? Thousands of us?

The Old Hippie in me is shaking her beads in the air.

(it is the 19th already at my place DownUnder so I want you to know I have not crossed a picket line)
peace and love