I thought ignorance was to blame. Maybe I was wrong.
I’VE BEEN FOLLOWING the progress of SOPA and PIPA for a few months now, and I think I’ve made a mistake. Originally, I supported the entertainment industry’s desire to do something about piracy; I just felt they were going about it the wrong way. And once I educated myself on the bills, I figured perhaps they, as well as the Congressmen who indicated they would vote to pass these bills, were just clueless as to what the actual ramifications would be.
During yesterday’s Internet blackout, I read an article by Dan Gillmor on The Guardian in which he suggested that, contrary to what is apparently popular belief, those pushing to censor the Internet have “a very clear understanding of what’s at stake.” In other words, the legislation has actually been created to take control of online content from the masses, thereby destroying “the most open means of communication and collaboration ever invented.”
Congressmen have, for the most part, demonstrated their complete and total ignorance for the great “series of tubes” that is the Internet. But Gillmor claims that Rupert Murdoch, Chris Dodd, and the other entertainment industry leaders lobbying so hard (and so expensively) for SOPA don’t just understand that it will destroy the Internet as we know it – they intended it for that purpose.
“They tell us that if we do not agree to their absolute control, we are endorsing stealing.”
“If they were saying what they believe,” Gillmor writes, “it would go roughly this way: ‘The Internet threatens our longstanding control of information and communications, and that is simply unacceptable. Therefore, it is essential to curb the utility of the Internet for everyone else.’”
Chris Dodd condemned yesterday’s blackout, calling it “an abuse of power,” an “irresponsible response,” and a “disservice to people who use their services.” Rupert Murdoch has accused Google of “plain stealing” and of “hypocrisy and influence-buying on Capitol Hill.” Both men said these things without a trace of irony.
“They tell us that if we do not agree to their absolute control, we are endorsing stealing.” This is the statement in Gillmor’s article that spoke to me most. But anti-SOPA does not mean pro-piracy. I am a writer and musician. I am completely against piracy. And if SOPA were truly anti-piracy legislation, I’d support it 100 percent.
But it’s not, so I don’t. And sadly, I find it entirely plausible that Dodd, Murdoch, and friends are fully aware of what will really happen if SOPA passes.