I haven’t said much about the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and its brother, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), because quite frankly, my opinion on it should be relatively clear. I’m against any kind of draconian laws that stiffle individual liberty, especially those that do so at the behest of private corporations. SOPA is everything I hate about modern lawmaking, squared. It’s a wildly unpopular bill, but it’s being pushed by powerful copyright industries who successfully lobby and donate to lawmakers in order to curry favour. The author of SOPA, Texas Representative Lamar Smith, is the worst kind of politician: he’ll be voted into office until the day he dies (he’s never been reelected with less than 60% of his district’s vote since stepping into office in 2006). As a libertarian, I find his record abominable. He expanded the scope of the repeatedly abused DMCA and uses his position to restrict the rights of women and those who would use medicinal marijuana. He’s as close to untouchable as a Congressman can be.
In the face of an industry-wide reaction to SOPA and PIPA, and to the ESA’s continued support for it, I really didn’t see a need to expand my limited resources too deeply on the bill. I wanted to let things settle and then take an analytical look at things, something which Josh Moore accomplished. You know how something is so screwed up that saying anything about it seems redundant? That’s how I felt any deeper analysis of the situation than what I did would be: another voice in a vacuum that was commanded largely by the amazing work of Destructoid’s Jim Sterling and The Entertainment Consumers Association’s Jose Betancourt.
However, I felt I finally had a chance to make a point when I heard about Reddit’s blackout scheduled for January 18th, the day deliberation is scheduled to reconvene on the bill in the House. My plan was to do things differently. In fact, if my plan was realized, you woudln’t be reading this because the site would be down right now, which would’ve coincided with my Live Stream being down. Furthermore, the plan wasn’t to announce it; it would have been a shock to the system for my few yet dedicated regular readers. However, Destructoid has stated they will join the January 18th blackout, and reportedly Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales is in favour of doing the same. There’s also rumblings that Google and Facebook could join in, and honestly, those two sites joining in would seal the deal on this legislation.
At the behest of constant pressure by the United States, Spain passed the Sinde Law, a SOPA-like copyright protection law. According to Wikileaks, Carlos Guervos, the Spanish Deputy Director for Intellectual Property at the Ministry of Culture, told the US ambassador that “the dogs bark but the caravan moves on” in regards to the heavy protests against the law. This attitude shows a blatant disregard for the will of the people and a classist approach to governing that renders us as nothing more than proletariat that can be ignored.
Though my site is small at just shy of 5,000 unique visitors a week, it’s time we joined the protest. We will also be dark on January 18th, meaning our regular Then and Now column won’t run, affecting my business partnership with Retro Games Plus. If, by our collective pressure, we can get the big dogs involved, we can band together and defeat this freedom-killing legislation. SOPA and PIPA, if enacted, would kill my web site and turn me into a felon. It would be irresponsible not to fight back.
It’s time to show that dogs can bite, too.