Two pieces of US Legislation, H.R. 3261 or SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and Senate Bill 968, or PIPA (Protect IP Act), have caused a storm of controversy lately. These have prompted many prominent sites to rise in protest by either blacking out service for a day (as Wikipedia did), or to place a black bar across their front page. The bills would basically make web sites legally responsible for everything that they contain or reference, and would give law enforcement the ability to shut down or to have access blocked to sites that do not comply. Proponents say that the measures are needed to protect intellectual property and to bolster enforcement of copyright laws. Opponents say that they threaten free speech and would place an unrealistic burden on legitimate sites, in many cases forcing them to shut down.
While we at SpotON3D are a strong advocate of intellectual property rights, we see SOPA and PIPA as threats to the world voice we have achieved with the rise of the Internet. Our world leaders saw the power of the world's voice with the Middle Eastern uprising, and how it was impossible to gag their freedom of speech through technology. We believe that this terrified them, because now that we can communicate with each other from across the world, we see better what our governments are doing to us, and to others around the world.
Here in the United States, our political leaders from all parties no longer have the moral or ethical fiber to lead in our favor. The day of the U.S. imposing its will on other countries needs to end. Our leaders are bought and controlled by big businesses and their lobbyists, and we are so easily persuaded to ignore what they are doing. This is facilitated by the fact that our news organizations are owned and controlled by major corporations. The advent of raw new footage is essential as a defender against this. If we surrender these rights to our governments, they could use this same law to stifle video, blogs and writings from around the world that are currently used to expose corruption and illegal acts against people of the world. We as a world people need to stand up for our rights for the Internet we have all grown to rely on so heavily. One voice... one Worlds... one People.
Having said that, we think we DO need to do something about copyright infringement, but are adamant that SOPA and PIPA are NOT the ways to do it. We see them as a thinly veiled excuse for our government and others to set a legal precedent -- to have the legal rights needed to shut down any web site at will without due legal representation. THIS MUST BE OPPOSED AT ALL COST. It will only perpetuate the ineffective DMCA system we currently have that requires no proof of copyright to ensure DMCAs are not used/abused to disrupt the business of a competitor and clog up our legal system with he-said/she-said type debates over ownership and rights. The solution for that is to require anyone who files a DMCA to submit a legitimate copyright registration per their country’s standards.
We and others are working on establishing a worldwide clearing house for digital goods, where the content images and copyrights can be registered and official outlets for purchase can be found by the users to ensure their purchases are made through legitimate vendors. If you, as a creator, are interested in helping us as we push forward on this ambitious project, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's solve this ourselves as a world population, and send a clear message to our governments that our Internet is not be to controlled in this way and that we are mature and responsible enough as a people to find real solutions that make sense.
Keep in mind that these bills are a two-prong attack on our freedoms. If one fails, the other may not and still pass. Please raise your voice and be heard!
A special thanks to Tessa Harrington, for graciously allowing the use of material from her own blog to create this article.