I have chosen, albeit controversial among my friends, not to let my website go dark on January 18, 2012 to protest SOPA and PIPA. But before anyone gets their panties in a twist, let me explain why.
First – I do not support either bill as they’re written. I’ve signed petitions and written to my congressmen with my objections to the proposed bills because I feel both SOPA and PIPA as they’re written go TOO FAR. Instead of merely eliminating piracy and protecting the rights of authors, artists, film makers and musicians, these bills as they’re written would severely censor the Internet (including social networking sites, blogs etc…) and innocent websites could end up being censored just because someone on that site links to a torrent or mentions it or whatever. Not to mention this does open the web for serious censorship. Don’t like a site’s content? Report it to the ISP or government as a site that violates SOPA or PIPA. I can see Christian groups trying this. There’s room for abuse here (not to mention the waste of taxpayer dollars). Then there are questions. What happens if I decide to freely release my OWN copywritten work? Will my site be tagged for shutdown because my site has free downloads? Just some questions worth asking.
However — I don’t support torrent sites or piracy either.
I would rather educate people about how e-Piracy hurts writers like me who depend on our writing income to survive.
I suggest musicians, film-makers and artists (and other creative folks) do the same thing. I also think writing your congressmen to protest SOPA and PIPA, but telling them you’d like them to find an alternative way to stop piracy (or signing petitions like THIS ONE) are the way to effectively stop bad legislation. Me blacking out my website will likely do very little in the grand scheme of things.
I also feel that I would be supporting piracy by blacking out my site completely.
At the same time I don’t want anyone to think I support SOPA or PIPA (as written) by not blacking out my site.
I have mixed feelings.
Don’t get me wrong – I would like legislation that addresses illegal torrents and piracy specifically. I just think they need to go back to the drawing board and find a better way that will punish the people who are abusing the system – not the innocent websites that can’t control what every person on their website is saying or doing. Go after the interface sites and those running those interface sites specifically — not necessarily the sites that may inadvertantly link to them. If the torrent sites don’t exist – no one can link to them, can they?
Yeah – I realize torrents are usually hard to shut down because the files jump from server to server or whatever and it’s hard to find out who’s behind them, but there has to be a better way of dealing with this. Maybe impose huge fines on any ISP that knowingly harbors a torrent? Maybe block URL’s that are known torrent interfaces? (I know of a couple – by name.) Maybe find a way to encrypt file tags into files to alert publishers to piracy (something stronger than the silly DRM tech that’s easily hacked like we have now?)? I don’t know what the answer is. All I know is making sites like Facebook and Google (or other user content generated sites) responsible for their user’s links is ridiculous and you can’t police everyone. It just doesn’t work.
This is my opinion as someone who loses about $400 a month due to piracy.
That is all.