Hello readers, sorry for the late post today. It’s partially due to my own shortsightedness, and partially due to today’s subject matter.

They must be doing something right, Yugi, Jaden and Yusei never had to worry about Big Brother

Why can't we just solve problems like adults? By playing a high-stakes children's card game.

 

Now anyone who knows me personally knows that I am not politically inclined. By my nature I am an entertainer. I try to diffuse even minor confrontations with my light-hearted attitude and a sarcastic quip whenever possible. Serious issues, particularly derisive ones usually shut my brain off the way a mindless anime about saving the world by playing a children’s card game disengages most other people’s brains. Unfortunately, some issues cannot be avoided, no matter how non-confrontation you are, and right now America and the internet are looking down the barrel of an issue that hits pretty close to home for a producer of internet content such as myself.

 

As I was getting at just a moment ago, I am usually woefully under informed about political issues, and I won’t pretend like I’m not, but since I decided to talk about this new legislation today, I had to spend some time reading up on it, so as not to completely embarrass myself. With that out of the way, let’s look at SOPA and PIPA.

 

You may have noticed some of your favorite websites interrupting their regularly scheduled updates today, or even blacking out their existing content from being accessed regularly. That’s because today is a day for the internet to protest these dangerous pieces of legislation. Sites participating in this boycott are attempting to make a statement about the fate that may befall the internet if the United States government allows this broad new power to fall into the hands of a few powerful people working for someone else’s agenda.

 

Those of you who aren’t so politically inclined may be asking, “What are SOPA and PIPA?”. The short answer is that they are the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, respectively. The medium-sized answer is that they are a pair of legislative threats to free-speech and unregulated internet access here in the U.S., as well as a threat to small businesses hoping to utilize the internet to do business, under the guise of putting an end to internet piracy. The long answer is…well, long.

 

The Congressional Seal seems way scarier than the Seal of Oricalchos under the SOPA/PIPA regime!

Aw man, I found the greatest image ever, but congress is censoring it!

The internet has always been a place to share and express ideas, but under the effects of SOPA and PIPA, any site utilizing user-driven content would need to be heavily monitored and regulated by its webmasters in order to prevent their whole site from being the target of a government embargo.

 

These acts function by classifying a website as either “domestic” or “foreign” based on their domain name and IP address, of course anyone who knows anything about the technical aspects of the internet knows that these types of designations aren’t all that simple to make. This is besides the point, though it does exemplify the degree of thought and expertise that went into the drafting of this legislation. It should also be noted that SOPA and PIPA allegedly seek to target “foreign” sites, yet they do not lay an adequate foundation on which to determine which sites are foreign.

 

Basically, the Attorney General and plaintiffs such as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) will be granted the ability to serve court orders, which will require all links to, access to and services with the foreign and infringing sites to be terminated. Any site failing to comply with the terms of this embargo would itself be in jeopardy of being shut down. I should point out that these sorts of entities (MPAA and RIAA) have notoriously lobbied to control the marketplace, rallying against innovations like the VCR which supposedly threatened to undermine their industries in the past but have proven no more than innovations adding jobs and new technology to the world.

They could have at least called it the Censorship Of Criminal Knowledge or something, so we could say sites were getting C.O.C.K.-Blocked.

The next time you're looking for rants about bad writing or snarky criticisms of anime, this may be all that you find.

 

One of the biggest problems with these acts is their ambiguous wording, which seems specifically crafted to leave patriot-act style loopholes in place for people to exploit while furthering their own agendas in the name of stopping piracy. For one, this legislation puts the burden of monitoring for material that potentially violates copyright on those in charge of the website, however it defines vaguely what constitutes this type of violation. As an example, if someone posted a comment on this post linking to a Russian website streaming pirated movies, not only could Cove of Solitude be shut down, but so could all of WordPress, at least in theory.

 

It’s hard to predict exactly how far this power might stretch, or the extent to which it might be abused, but from what I understand some of the tactics outlines in SOPA and PIPA mirror tactics used in countries like China and Iran to censor free speech on the internet. America once stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity for all, and I know that as a nation we’ve fallen a long way from then, but it would truly break my heart to see us plummet to such lows after our humble origins as a group of people seeking nothing more than freedom of religion and expression from a stubborn ruling entity.

 

Now as I writer and a producer of other types of content, I am sympathetic to the idea of protecting intellectual property and  safeguarding against copyright infringement, but I have to agree with the countless others who have already gone on record as saying these bills probably won’t work as intended, but will instead cause countless problems and incalculable damage to the internet. If you live here in the United States, please do your part to make your voice heard in protest of an Orwellian future. I’m including some links below where you can add your name to petitions against the SOPA and PIPA, as well as learn more about the subject from people who can do a better job of explaining things than I can.

 

That's right, there's an anime about pirates with super powers. It's even better than it sounds!

Despite my love of pirate imagery, piracy is a big no-no. I prefer the kind of pirate pictured above.

 

I hope that I have explained at least vaguely how these acts threaten the internet that I’m sure you know and love, and I hope that I’ve done so in a way that actually makes some coherent sense. I also hope that I can continue to bring you the same content you’ve come to expect over the last few months for the foreseeable future.

 

Learn More:

 

http://blog.reddit.com/2012/01/technical-examination-of-sopa-and.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

http://getyourcensoron.com/

https://www.eff.org/free-speech-weak-link

 

Speak Out:

http://americancensorship.org/

https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/

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