Software piracy has been going on for a long time. How many of us know someone who has an illegal copy of Photoshop or Microsoft Office? That was bad enough, but now the pirates are increasingly cutting into Hollywood’s revenues, so suddenly congress, which must have considered the computer industry a bunch of geeks, is taking notice. Their buddies in Hollywood helped elect them.
Two bills before Congress, known as the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, would censor the Web and impose harmful regulations on American business. Millions of Internet users and entrepreneurs already oppose SOPA and PIPA.
We can unite our voices to apprise our legislators of our opposition to this travesty. Google has established an on-line petition that will serve to reflect our numbers. Please consider signing it NOW, as the Senate vote on PIPA commences on January 24, 2012. That’s next Tuesday!
The Nittany Turkey might cease to exist if this onerous legislation is signed into law. So might thousands of worthwhile blogs across the country. So might YouTube, for all practical purposes. The government will have the power to shut down web sites without due process.
The piracy problem is definitely out of control, inasmuch as every high school and middle school kid knows how to download movies and tv shows without paying for them. They are not discouraged by their parents, who should be the primary regulators. Of course, if the parents rationalize that it’s ok because it’s not hurting anyone, that’s much of the problem. People feel entitled to take whatever appears on their screen. It’s on THEIR computer, so it’s as good as theirs. However, morality cannot be legislated.
Tell a criminal that he can’t have a gun and he’ll get one anyway. Tell a kid that she can’t steal movies on-line and she’ll do it anyway. No amount of domestic regulation will fix either issue, as black markets will always exist, operating either offshore, or under the radar of the authorities.
While I disdain piracy, I just as strongly disdain stifling regulation. The Internet has been a bastion of creativity and sharing — legal sharing of knowledge —much of which will be curtailed with the passage of PIPA/SOPA. Don’t we have enough useless, costly, and counterproductive regulation already?
Once again, voting starts in the Senate on January 24, 2012 (next Tuesday). Please sign the Google petition and tell your senators and congressmen that you oppose PIPA and SOPA. We need all the help we can get in order to stop this nonsense.
- Ars Technica — How to make your voice heard
- Official U.S. Senate Site
- U.S. House of Representatives
- Electronic Freedom Foundation
- Public Knowledge