SOPA and PIPA (2011) are two Internet anti-piracy bills before the U.S. Congress as of January 2012. They are mostly the same: PIPA is the Senate one, SOPA the House of Representatives one. They are a naked power grab by Hollywood to control the Internet.
They would allow Hollywood and people like Rupert Murdoch to do to the Internet in America pretty much what the Communist Party has done to it in China: decide what people inside the country can and cannot see. It allows them to block not just foreign websites but even American ones.
That might all sound more extreme than what you have been hearing, but bear with me.
First, these six companies produce 90% of what Americans read, watch and listen to as of 2011. The numbers are how much each makes in a year:
- Viacom; $14.9 billion
- CBS Corporation: $14.1 billion
- News Corp: $33.4 billion
- Time Warner: $26.9 billion
- GE: $150.2 billion
- Disney: $40.9 billion
Together they have spent millions to push SOPA and PIPA. And then put on this Clueless Act like they do not quite understand how the Internet works or what the bills that they pretty much wrote are asking for. Like they were born yesterday.
Some people buy into the Clueless Act and say stuff like SOPA and PIPA are badly written or so broad they are open to abuse. Like it was an accident they were written that way.
I have to assume that anyone who spends millions asking for something knows full well what they are asking for and wants it badly.
And therefore it must be a power grab.
Means, opportunity – and motive: these same companies are based on business models that no longer work in an Internet age. But rather than adjust to the Internet, they want the Internet to adjust to them.
The anti-piracy stuff in the bills is laughable. Therefore I have to assume it is window dressing for the broad powers that are given.
To block a website from America all they have to do is get a judge to agree that it either has infringed copyrighted material or links to one that does!!!! That is like half the Internet. At least.
Even worse: the burden of proof is not on them but on the website owner. Guilty till proven innocent – by lawyers better than whatever a multibillion dollar company can afford.
Also bad: the government can shut down websites on their behalf. The copyright stuff could be used as an excuse for darker motives.
It would make websites like the Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook and WordPress (this one!) unworkable because they are based on user-created content that is next to impossible to police.
Hollywood content would be king, not our content.
This is part of a long battle: if SOPA and PIPA are killed, the media companies will try again later with new bills with new names. And, as they have already shown, they will try to take just as much power as they can get away with.
PIPA is set for a Senate vote on January 24th 2012.