Monday, January 23, 2012

SOPA My Back and Wash Me Down the Drain

The Guardian (UK): Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

The US attempt to control internet piracy has sparked a fierce battle between the creative industries and the free speech lobby.
That was headline and opener in a John Naughton article for The Guardian's weekend edition, in which he tried to makes sense to the British for various
American goings-on.

The 'creative industries' sounds pleasantly like writers, musicians and indie film-makers arguing for their financial health against those who want the internet to stay open and unrestricted. In actuality, 'creative industries' is just a user friendly moniker for the biggest of big businesses, the movie and music guys like Warner Brothers, Paramount and Sony/Columbia.



Those three alone account for half a worldwide business that generates nearly $30 billion a year in revenues. The proposed SOPA legislation was written by Hollywood and the somewhat less less centric Music Industry (with revenues of about $140 billion), all of which adds up to a huge chunk of change to spread around Congress. And spread it they do, along with horror stories of what will happen to their neat little monopoly on access and distribution, wailing that the 'artists' they represent must be saved from the greed of fans worldwide. 


Greed is certainly a part of the equation, but hardly on the part of fans, subject as they are to the eight buck average for a ticket and an additional five bucks for a small popcorn.

We small players without access to entry, who have finally found a way to enter the publishing, music or film game through the internet will be lathered by SOPA and then washed down the drain to irrationally support and industry that's already in a state of decline. Rather than adapt to the impact of the virtually free uploading and swapping of content, the Malibu Moguls want Congress to fix their leaky roof, no matter who gets wet.

But someone always comes along to fill a need and among the many, Apple built a business plan on inclusion rather than exclusion. iTunes lept out of the starting gate, delivering what the public wanted at a price they wanted to pay. According to Wikipedia

"The latest era of phenomenal success for the company has been in the iOS range of products that began with the iPhone, iPod Touch and now iPad. As of 2011, Apple is the largest technology firm in the world, with annual revenues of more than $60 billion."
So the problem has nothing at all to do with copyright issues. The problem is an industry faced with technological changes to which it refuses to adapt and screaming copyright issues to cover their shortsighted and uncreative asses. 

Let's face it, book publishers, those in the film and music industries and all those who had comfortable lives supporting them, are watching their market-share decline. That's life in the fast lane, but it doesn't come with a guarantee and certainly is not either cured or saved by Congress (once again) selling their influence to the highest private industry bidder.

According to what SOPA explains as necessary, you or I uploading a portion of a movie or Michael Jackson album to somewhere or someone such as Youtube for free, will make us liable to a five year prison sentence. As a not-so-humorous aside, Michael Jackson's freaky doctor who actually killed Michael with a drug overdose is doing four years for that crime.

Ah well, life is stranger than fiction in its unlimited permutations, but the buddy-buddy relationship between big-business and the United States Congress relies on money flowing in one direction and targeted legislation in the other. That free-speech lobby The Guardian mentioned may as well be the lobby of your nearby Motel 6 for all the hearing it gets in the legislative halls of Congress. Not that that's not important--I'm a firm believer in squeaking when my tail has been stepped upon, but to equate a squeak with a roar is to confuse
citizens with corporations.

Oops, I forgot our Supreme Court already settled that issue by stifling the public squeak and seating the corporate roar front and center.

In any event, should either The Guardian or Wikipedia take umbrage to my use of their content without written permission (which is what the fine print already requires), even though I have attributed the stuff quoted, if SOPA prevails, I shall be off to the slammer. Not only that, my devoted reader, but you shan't even be aware of the loss--my site will simply go dark and that will be that.

Imagine the irony of The Dark Side of the Moon going dark.