Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oh, Is That All?

   When I first heard word that there was an Internet censorship bill before congress, my thoughts turned to the darkest, most revolting corners of the 'net. And in defense of freedom of expression and thought, I was planning out a blog post toeing the gray areas of our First Amendment. I thought maybe kiddie porn sites, or prostitution under the guise of an escort service. When I started poking into it, I was floored. Piracy?? Media-swapping? That's what they're considering allowing broad censorship of the web for? I recognize the intent, and from a purely legal standpoint, the end result is certainly clear and right: to stop information piracy and protect intellectual property. However, I absolutely do not see how the ends justify the means in this case.
      What I see when I look at this bill is a gang of miserly lawyers and record company CEOs who want to be even richer coercing our government to use a blowtorch to kill a ant. Or to be fair, millions of ants. However an exterminator uses a very guided, surgical approach to remove ants, not burn down the house. The government hasn't been able to effectively stop individuals from pirating music, so they are lashing out at the mode of piracy: the websites. Would they also suggest that boatmakers and weapons manufacturers be liable for what Somalian pirates are doing in North Africa? People are the ones breaking laws and pirating music, not the websites themselves. The bill would allow websites to be sued or taken down if their subscribers are suspected of pirating media through their site.
     As usual, the big corporations will remain largely out of danger and the biggest casualities would be the smaller, less popular sites with less means for legal defense. The government and lawyers will truly be shooting the messenger on this one, due to their own ineffectiveness at stopping piracy from the actual individual people copying music. Media piracy is illegal and if the lawyers and companies with claims to the media want to take their own action thats fine. But this kind of commissioned legislation creates far too much collateral damage. There is an answer to preventing piracy, but this is absolutely not it. This seems to be still another another case of government over-action in response to the lobbying of the wealthy that will hurt more innocent people than it helps. I don't know how many more ways I can say it: the ends don't justify these means.

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