The more I learn about the Stop Online Piracy Act, the greater the urge I have to take action. This goes double for me, as a blogger operating outside of US jurisdiction.
Why SOPA is Dangerous, from mashable.com.
(Update: More Anti-Piracy Bill Co-Sponsors Bail, from Reuters)
Let me put it this way: If I were a published author, I would have every right to be annoyed by folks downloading my e-book without paying my royalties. As it goes, however, authors already have a hard time getting paid by the mainstream publishing industry, where publishers can come up with various excuses not to support an author, and books are often priced out of reach. (See also: my dad, who continues to hope that the latest books by Dan Brown, John Grisham, and Nicholas Sparks would stop being so damned expensive.) Same thing with online self-publishing, where authors have to keep slashing their prices down to 99 cents for that one sliver of hope that someone, anyone, would get to read their work and build a following from there. If SOPA gets passed, creative types like us would barely get the chance to build that following online, because the law can be used to block networking sites for arbitrary reasons; the rest of the world will have to pay through the nose for what the bigger companies choose to put into the market. Who do you think gets screwed here?
Let us not even entertain what would happen if something horrible were to happen in Manila right now – a coup d’etat perpetrated by militant forces, or a sudden declaration of a “state of emergency” – that could effectively shut down all established media outlets in the Philippines and ban foreign journalists from covering events, leaving everyone else to go all Arab Spring and post videos of the atrocities on Facebook. Look, I’m the furthest that you will ever get to being an activist or dissident, but I cringe at the thought of SOPA being used to shut down networking sites and search engines by holding them liable for user-supplied content that may come across as copyright infringement. Think about it: how do you think we’ll be able to truly get the point across to the rest of the world?
Let’s get real: There are some things that don’t need to be posted on the Web. (See also: those super icky videos of Filipino celebrities in various acts of excessive PDA.) Where my beliefs lie, however, is in having a fair playing field in a free market, and a fair chance of disseminating information that could spell out the difference between truth and speculation. And that will not be possible without an open Internet.
This is the closest I will ever get to posting a political statement. Forgive me, but I had to do this for you.
Related: The Creative Commons License for this blog.