Defeating SOPA and PIPA Isn't Enough

SOPA and PIPA are two pieces of proposed legislation designed to "stop" Internet piracy… in the most hamfisted way imaginable. As Mitchell Baker explains:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

Nothing drives home the loss of Wikipedia like clicking on slacktivism and remembering, “Oh right, the sum total of human knowledge has the day off today.”

It’s not just big businesses like media companies that care about this. It’s the people in power that want to hang on to it. The problem is that big money and big government want the Internet reigned in and be controlled. It’s key to controlling the masses.

Attempts to get this sort of bill passed will keep coming up until at one time it’ll go through due to a ‘national emergency’ (remember the Patriot Act) or other manufactured threat.

But the problem is that the lobbying money is there for a reason. If spending a million dollars on buying off Congressmen - sorry, I mean, campaign contributions - can make you a billion dollars, you’d be insane not to do it. The Congressmen, of course, want to be bought off, and have zero moral incentive not to be bought off. (If you think that people go into politics because of their angelic nature, I suggest remedial psychology classes.)

So the only real way to get the money to stop coming into politics is to stop the money going out the back end. If the government didn’t have an essentially unlimited amount of money to spend, and an essentially unlimited power to spend it, then there wouldn’t be nearly the lobbying there is now, because it wouldn’t pay off. (Would you spend a million dollars to make back less than that?) That’s essentially what happened before the expansion of government starting in about 1913 or so: there was little reason to lobby because government could have little effect on economic outcomes.

So if you want to remove the lobbying, you have to reduce the power of government. And frankly, most of the people most concerned about the lobbying are least concerned about how powerful government is.

How such boneheaded bills make it this far in Congress Reason 4: It’s an excuse to extend governmental powers over the general population, online piracy is a mere excuse.

I’m pretty confident that I’m not the only one that sees an ulterior motive in most “security”, “anti-terrorism” or “think of the children” legislation.

Yes, it’s basically a conspiracy theory, but it’s not without historical precedent.

If you’re looking for explanations to this phenomenon, this video is absolute gold:

“But please, please also join us in attacking the far more pernicious problem of lobbyist money subtly corrupting our government.”

While I’m not a fan of “corruption”, I don’t see how this can be done without limiting the money that any individual can contribute to the political process. So much political speech has been limited in the name of “fighting corruption”, just as internet speech could potentially be limited in the name of “fighting piracy”.

I hate SOPA/PIPA too, but many of those protesting it have no issues with the limit of political speech. Concerning internet censorship, many people have (rightly) appealed to higher ideals of free speech. Maybe because it would affect their internet experience. They don’t do so when it could influence a political outcome in a way they do not like.

Jeff as a gamer, you may be interested in the gaming community’s stand against the ESA’s support for SOPA and PIPA:

We do not have a problem with “lobbyist money subtly corrupting our government”. There’s nothing subtle about it.

As badly designed as this bill is, to the fact that even with all the stuff they proposed, it just won’t work, and piracy would still be rampant, I don’t hear anybody suggesting any alternative solutions to stopping Americans from accessing copyright infringing sites which are located off of American soil.

Sure you could go after individual users of the site, but that would be way too troublesome. It would be like going after the casual drug users while completely ignoring the huge drug cartels. The cartel could always find more customers. They could try to work it out with whichever country the site is located in, to get the site shut down, but many of the countries that host these sites couldn’t care less about the pirate web sites.

If the bill was exactly the same, except that “copyright infringement” was replaced with “human trafficking”, most people wouldn’t be against it. And sure, copyright infringement isn’t as serious as human trafficking, but they are both illegal. And I’m sure we all wouldn’t want PayPal et al providing payment services to human trafficking sites, and we wouldn’t want Google paying AdWords revenue to human trafficking sites, and many people would probably go so far as to say that the DNS for human trafficking sites shouldn’t even resolve.

So, badly written law, really shouldn’t be passed, because yeah, the way it’s written, sites like StackOverflow could get taken down for a very small copyright infraction*(see rant below). However, nobody seems to be coming up with any other solutions either.

*Not that I personally believe it would happen, takedown requires a court order, and the judge would take one look at the site, and know that it isn’t a pirate haven. The content in question would probably be taken down before the judge had a chance to even look at the site. A judge would have to be completely out of his mind to block a legitimate site in this matter.

In response to @Sadastronaut, some countries do limit political contributions. Canada has very strict rules about campaign contributions. Basically no corporate, union, or non-incorporated association may donate any money. Zero, Zilch, Nada. Also, Individuals may only donate $1200 in any one calendar year. Sure there’s probably people who ignore the law, or find creative ways around it, but it’s there.

Don’t assume SOPA and PIPA are done for yet. Only a few senators have switched sites. PIPA will be discussed on January 24th, and SOPA on February. Until both bills are killed once and for all we cannot celebrate.

I don’t think “average people” really get what’s going on with Wikipedia. Half my Facebook stream today was basically “oh no, they’ve shut down Wikipedia :(”. Luckily, the other half was “hey, I can bypass that SOPA screen on Wikipedia”.

SOPA and PIPA are two pieces of proposed legislation designed to “stop” Internet piracy.

Perhaps this legislation was “intended” to stop Internet piracy, but hardly designed to.

Kibbee has a point; the fact is that Copyright means its holder has an exclusive right to make any copies of a work, with a few exceptions.

Of course, the only way to enforce these laws is with draconian methods, even harsher and more intrusive than SOPA.

Which means that supporting Copyright but not the laws required to enforce it is an hypocrisy, no less than voting for high governmental spending and low taxes.

From there, one has two honest alternatives. One of them is supporting SOPA and its ilk.

The other, is to drop the facade and defend the elimination of copyright.

The influence of lobbyists is only a symptom, not the cause of the disease.

In a populist democracy with a mixed economy, every group that participates in the political system is a “special interest”, with the incentive and the power to use the political system to extract benefits for its members at the at the expense of everyone else. Corporations, unions, disease-awareness organizations, “minority” groups, and anyone who organizes around a common cause has the power believes that their fate or cause is more legitimate, important, and “special” than that of everyone else.

The welfare and regulatory systems are the primary means to coercively redistribute property and confer monopoly benefits to various groups. In a mixed economy, everyone is constantly on the defensive against organized groups extracting benefits from him, and on the offensive attempting to use the coercive power of the state to extract benefits from others. Interventionism creates a vicious cycle hardly unique to corporations: first a lobby tries to extract special privileges from some politically neutral group, the group hires lobbyists to defend itself, and ends up using the influence it has gained to extract privileges at the expense of another neutral group, which must defend itself in turn.

The existence of “special interests” is just a symptom of the disease: the growth of government power to a degree that allows those in power to violate our rights and steal our property for the benefits of their constituents. Populist “maverick” politicians who claim that they will “fight special interests” and “change the culture in Washington” are just attempting to subvert the power of the state to favor their particular constituency. Campaign finance regulations are just monopoly privileges created by the political élite to hide corruption from the public and make it more difficult for those without political connections and money to get elected and in order to defend themselves or join in the looting.

The only solution to the problems caused by interventionism is to end interventionism – to separate government and economy. Take away the power of the government, and you will remove both the incentive and the power of the “special interests.” As long as governments try to control people and businesses with laws that go beyond the protection of property rights, the “special interests” will have the incentive to control governments.

This is the best explanation I’ve seen as to why this legislation is just plain wrong.

This is an attempt to use the strong arm of the State to support a broken and outdated business model. This legislation was purchased by vested interests to maintain those interests. It has been building for a long, long time and will not stop here; win or lose.

Positions of influence are also part of the money trail but much harder to track as they are far less explicit, if equally obvious.

Former Senator Chris Dodd is now the head of the MPAA and has the gall to call today’s blackout “an abuse of power.”

SOPA has received far more attention, but it’s evil twin is equally as egregious.

The author and sponsor of PIPA Sen. Leahy of VT takes 50 cents for every Vermonter from the Movie/Music/TV industries in 2010.

Rupert Murdoch’s Twitter Tantrum of 2012 is understandable. I get angry when I pay for things and they don’t get delivered, too.!/rupertmurdoch/status/158321072943542272

It is a combination of direct money and indirect. Influence within and outside of “the Belt.”

It really is time for corruption in government to be treated as treasonous.

Banning lobbyists isn’t the real solution either. If you have a strong opinion on some matter or another, there is nothing in the world which prevents you from grouping with other like minded individuals and pooling your resources to lobby Congress or giving to lobbyist organizations dedicated to that advocating that position.

This bill will just be put in again without as much coverage later when the fan fare dies down. A bit cynical but that seems to be the way government works. They don’t really care. But I’m glad you guys put up a fight.

The main problem that causes this is the people let government use aggression as a means to an end. It is not until we believe that love is the ultimate answer that we will truly be able to overcome these attacks on our freedoms, truly, it is the enemy within that will be our downfall and that enemy is ourselves individually.