Not sofa, SOPA

MoveOn.org sent out an e-mail titled “The end of the Internet?” As dramatic as that sounds, it might not be a stretch. From the first line of their message, “As soon as this week, Congress will start debating whether to give the government the power to turn off parts of the Internet.” Just imagine if, say, Egypt tried that during the April revolution. Oh, wait, they did.

But that’s not exactly what MoveOn.org seems to be concerned about. They’re more concerned, I guess, about the implications related to copyright issues. Here’s the example they give as to why this is dangerous: “For example, if you (or Justin Bieber) wanted to post a video to YouTube of yourself singing a Beatles song, a record company could force the Department of Justice to shut down YouTube. Really.”

OK, my complaint has nothing to do with Justin Bieber. (Really.) See, according to copyright law, neither I nor Justin Bieber, nor anyone else, can record a Beatles song and use it in a video without getting the license to do this. That’s the way copyright law has always been. The Internet should not be considered anything that changed things in that regard. It doesn’t matter if you don’t make money or even intend to make money from it, you still need to acquire the right to do so. You’re not going to sell me on this as the big danger of what Congress might do when I create songs myself and want that protection, or at least want the right to be asked for licenses.

What they really ought to be emphasizing is how a government that’s already encroaching on civil liberties for the sake of our “freedom” might use this to head off dissent. Because if the precedent is set, then where does it end? Although, I guess it’s possible the feds would use copyright violation as a convenient excuse to shut down a website that was also disseminating information to dissenters. So maybe MoveOn has this right after all?

P.S. Here’s an article from mid-November at the Washington Post about the bill Congress is discussing: Five Things to Know About SOPA. SOPA stands for Stop Online Piracy Act.

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About songdogmi

I'm a longhaired almost-hippie stuck in the inner suburbs of a major rust-belt metropolis who's thoughtful, creative, and kind of geeky. In exchange for a paycheck I run around in a cubicle maze most days. When I escape, I play music, hang out in coffee houses, dink around on the computer, take naps, and think I should be off in the woods somewhere. Every once in a while I get in my car and drive far, far away, though I've always come back so far.
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8 Responses to Not sofa, SOPA

  1. maxauburn says:

    Our government scares me more and more with each passing day.

    • songdogmi says:

      But they only mean to do the best for us citizens. Really! And if you do nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about.

      I don’t know what concerns me more, the government that comes up with this stuff or the citizens who are OK with it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    SOPA is bad, a stupid idea. No question about it, once again that bunch of tired old men who are out of touch with reality is trying to legislate things that shouldn’t be legislated.

    However, I find that another bill, slated for a Senate vote next Monday, is much worse. That’s the one that grants the President the power to use US military personnel and resources to detain anyone, anywhere in the world (including US citizens on US soil) indefinitely and without charges. This is potentially worse than the Japanese Internment, and could easily be abused to the point of the Holocaust. It is unconstitutional in the extreme, and was written in secret by two senators and passed through a closed committee meeting. The entire idea is contrary to the basis of American democracy, yet they have the gall to continue pushing it. What is going on in Washington these days, anyway?

    S. 1867, referred to as the National Defense Authorization Act bill, was drafted in secret by Senators Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and John McCain.

    • songdogmi says:

      I think you’re right about S.1867 being worse with the provisions regarding indefinite detentions. That is an even more worrisome issue. That Carl Levin coauthored the bill with the provisions is, to put it mildly, very disappointing. It’s a good illustration of why I frequently say now, of the Democrats and the Republicans, “a pox on both of your houses.”

      Senators Mark Udall of Colorado and Jim Webb of Virginia (both Democrats) sponsored an amendment to strip the present detention clauses and replace it with a different approach. That amendment was defeated today, unfortunately, with both Michigan’s senators opposed. In a twist of fate that I am not sure how I feel about, one of the supporters was the junior senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul.

      Washington has become bizarro-world, and there may not be five members of Congress I have much respect for right now.

      • Anonymous says:

        There certainly doesn’t seem to be any rational reason for the behavior we see there. I can only conclude that big money interests are paying them to act in the way they do. There is no other explanation possible.

        Levin has been there too long, only God knows what he has sold out to. He was in Congress when I lived in Michigan, and that was 35+ years ago. Too long.

      • songdogmi says:

        You said it there. I’m not offering disrespect to the elderly, but the Levin brothers, Conyers, and Dingell have been there so long and are so old, and nothing is being done about succession. The Michigan Democratic party is absolutely bereft of candidates with any hope of success at any level. No wonder the Republicans swept state offices and both houses of the legislature, and have 2/3rds of the congressional delegation..

  3. kenny2fl says:

    Congress

    I don’t think Congress has ever been more dis-functional.
    The House is a mess and the Senate is a constant filibuster.

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