(All text in italics is ACTUAL TEXT from the two bills.) I oppose this all so much for SO MANY FREAKING REASONS.
I read S. 968 which has the Short Title of ‘‘Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011’’ and is also known as the “PROTECT IP Act of 2011”. Okay, that sounds nice. Yeah, they want to protect America from threats that may potentially impact their “Economic Creativity” in negative ways or result in the theft of intellectual property. I guess, that’d be good, but the problem is in what the actual bill says. If you continue to read into it, it gradually becomes something I never thought I could encounter in my entire LIFETIME as an American Citizen. They plan to use tactics that have been put into use by the FREEDOM-LOVING Chinese Government. (Can you taste the sarcasm?) Here’s a sample of some of the text:
- “On application of a qualifying plaintiff following the commencement of an action under this section, the court may issue a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, or an injunction, in accordance with rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, against the domain name used by an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities, or against a registrant of such domain name, or the owner or operator of such Internet site dedicated to infringing activities, to cease and desist from undertaking any further activity as an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities…” — PROTECT IP Act of 2011
- “A qualifying plaintiff, if alleging that an Internet site previously adjudicated to be an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities is accessible or has been reconstituted at a different domain name, may commence a related action under this section against the additional domain name in the same judicial district as the previous action.” –– PROTECT IP Act of 2011
The “PROTECT IP Act of 2011” gives the Entertainment Industry the ability to create a case against ANY web domain and it’s operators for even allowing ONE link of copyrighted material. Do you remember that acoustic cover of “Like a Virgin” you watched the other day that was soooo good you just had to share it on Twitter? Well, it just got blocked from YouTube because they aren’t allowed to let you upload that kind of stuff anymore… And Twitter had to censor your tweet because they have become liable for everything that you’ve posted. Websites that used to let you post freely will be required to either censor your posts or cease to exist as websites.
I live in California, a state that’s pretty well known for the tendency of its citizens to sue the (CENSORED) out of each other. We sue for everything and anything here. We even sue to change the law. I’m not going to get into THAT debate, but what I want to say is that lawsuits don’t TRULY benefit ANYONE but the lawyers and members of the law system and are actually counter-productive in our current goal of creating American jobs and fixing our economy. In this case, it is not citizens who benefit from the lawsuits, but actually the corporate entities that are really going to just spend all that money on fancy cars and factories in China. Lawsuits should be used MUCH MORE SPARINGLY by Americans. I feel that VERY STRONGLY, but I don’t think I’d want to write up a law about that and impose it on the masses. Then I’d be doing what “Stop Online Piracy Act” and “PROTECT IP Act of 2011” are going to do if they are passed.
Basically, if some bozo in a suit from the Entertainment Industry feels that their copyrighted material has been used in a way that infringes upon their “Economic Creativity” or whatever, a judge gets to decide if this website that they don’t even use or know ANYTHING about has actually infringed upon that… Now, I don’t believe that it’s possible to fairly judge that, and I don’t believe that anyone should even have the RIGHT to judge that. From personal experience, there’s already enough of an honor code on the internet to moderate this kind of usage, and websites like YouTube can take down whatever kind of posts or videos they feel are not legal to have on there. There is NO NEED for these bills to be signed into law! Sure, people may be sharing music or photographs like crazy nowadays, but that’s GOOD for the artists. This is how people DISCOVER music and art nowadays. The industry has changed! In my opinion, the suits need to realize that and ROLL WITH IT. They need to use this to their advantage. People are sharing their art, yes, but that doesn’t mean that they’re suddenly taking credit for it all of a sudden! It’s not even POSSIBLE to take credit for something that you didn’t do if the original artist is out there performing and making appearances on TV or runs a video blog.
Another passage of text that I found to be a little scary was the following one, just a simple definition about the term “United States” when used in the text of these two bills:
- “The term ‘‘United States’’ includes any commonwealth, possession, or territory of the United States.”
What this means is that any blacklisted web domain will be blocked in not only United States proper, but it’s territories as well! I mean, I understand that the United States government can make laws for their territories… but the thing that bothers me is that these bills, if signed into law, actually give power to the Entertainment Industry to decide what territories like Guam and Puerto Rico can do on the internet. So, in a really exaggerated expression of this… they are allowing Justin Bieber to dictate the laws in what is really a foreign country. It just doesn’t really make sense to me. Another thing that I’m scared of is that other countries with territories and commonwealths might put into action similar laws… There won’t be unregulated internet anywhere. This might all start off simple, but I’m afraid that as time goes on, and the Entertainment Industry has more time to figure out what they can do with these laws in place, they’ll start to take it further. It’s not impossible for these corporations to get so much control that we in effect actually have a government run by the Entertainment Industry… something that I like to call the Label-State… This is something that, in my opinion, suddenly makes a movie that my friends and I tried working on during the summer A LOT more relevant. Here’s the trailer, just so you know what I’m talking about:
The story is basically about an underground resistance called the Mutilators that has to fight against the Labelers (CEOs, corporate slaves, and Record Label’s agents) and the Label-State when the mainstream takes over and replaces all creativity with generic pop music and government-run news, radio, and consumerism. I wrote this script as a science-fiction story, but there’s really nothing keeping this from becoming a reality once these bills are signed into law… and you’ll be seeing me in the fight against it. I’ll be on the front-lines, just like my character is in the script for the movie. I think that these bills may be just what it takes to get some serious support for this movie of mine ;) haha But we’ll see… Anyway, back to the bills and their effects on the internet.
There’s one website that I TRULY LOVE and know is going to be deeply affected by this is Tumblr.com. Tumblr is a blogging platform that allows you to easily post pictures, quotes, text, anything like that to your blog from other people’s blogs. In an America where this bill is signed into law, Tumblr becomes an EASY TARGET. The “Reblog” function is DEEPLY integrated into the functionality and even CULTURE of the website. Entire blogs exist JUST BECAUSE of this function. So these bills could potentially give judges who have never even had their own Tumblog (the term for a “Tumblr Blog”) the ability to ban functions on a website that they had probably never heard of before the case? That’s something I can’t stand for. I don’t believe that anyone has or SHOULD HAVE the right to limit the functionality of a website or, as stated in S. 968‘s buddy, the ‘‘Stop Online Piracy Act’’, “be subject to seizure in the United States in an action brought by the Attorney General if such site were a domestic Internet site”.
I logged into Tumblr this morning and found the layout to look a bit different. EVERYTHING WAS CENSORED! Covered up by big grey boxes that said “censored” on them. Text posts were blacked out as if they were some sort of top secret documents from the freaking C.I.A.! You had to click a link at the top that said “Stop The Law That Will Censor The Internet!”. This link takes you to a page that explains to you the situation at hand and the consequences that will occur if these bills are signed into law. I’m hoping to GOD that Barack Obama vetoes this (CENSORED) if congress actually passes it (They’re old men and women who probably can’t even use the internet, so I bet they will). I would be so disappointed in him if he didn’t AT LEAST oppose them. David Karp, founder and CEO of Tumblr, seems VERY adamant about educating all his users about this atrocity. Here’s the link:
You can fill in your information and receive a call from Karp. The call will then transfer you over to one of your representatives in Congress. Please do this, and leave them a very passionate message if they decide not to answer your call. Tumblr is not the ONLY website that will be affected by these bills, it’s just the one that affects me most. I’ve been a member of that website for 2 years. I’m not going to let the government tell me what I can subscribe to or view on the internet that my family pays for! Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Soundcloud, even simple videos of people singing popular songs can all be targeted.
The bill DOES go on to talk about certain websites that are registered overseas that are providing prescription medications (and other illegal goods and services such as pirated movies, music, and programs) to American citizens without prescriptions given by doctors for prices that are not market-level and I’m sure that these measures can be used to protect the United States from ACTUAL threats like terror plots and things like that, but if that was their intention, I think we’d be getting some notification about this from somebody working for the CIA or FBI or something at least related to that all. They’d also use that actual word, “terrorist” which I did not come across ONCE in either bill. While there ARE websites out there that pose serious threats to America and her citizens, there are plenty more websites out there that have greatly innovated the landscape of the World Wide Web and have done so honestly and with MUCH HARD WORK. This raises some questions in my mind that I couldn’t find discussed in either bill.
- What happens to the content on a website that is deemed a threat to our nation’s “Economic Creativity”?
- Does it just get deleted?
- What happens to all the programmers, developers, and other employees that have been working for these websites for years, some of them since the VERY FIRST DAY?
- Won’t this have a negative impact on the amount of jobs in America?
- What happens to their work?
- What about THEIR creativity?
I think that my biggest problem with these bills is that the language is vague and gives power to people who don’t need or deserve it. It also appears to me that the American Government is DESPERATE to look like they are doing something, so they are writing up utter stupidity, putting it together into a document, and then calling them “bills”. You can definitely argue that these bills have some good intentions, but the price is just too high to pay. Your FREEDOM is the price. We don’t need more bureaucracy in this nation and there is no need to give the entertainment industry power over our freedoms or the internet. The internet was designed for sharing information with other users, not to censor the expression of its users. Let’s stand up for the internet and all websites that we have come to love. I’m not going to let THIS GOVERNMENT run by incompetent politicians dictate what I can and cannot do on the internet, especially since they often decide to take vacations when they are supposed to be making decisions on the legislation that REALLY MATTERS. There’s SO MANY more pressing matters to discuss than these bills that only serve corporations and their goals to increase music and movie sales.
If I haven’t made it clear enough what these bills will do to you and your rights when to comes to using the internet, WATCH THIS VIDEO. It will help you understand this all in a much more visual way:
Thank you for reading :)