The Government reckon that a good way to combat internet piracy is to DELETE THE INTERNET.
Well ish. If you don’t know what SOPA or PIPA is, then you must have been living under a rock made of 7-inch thick information repellent, or whatever it is that houses Chris Moyles’ brain. Probably 7-inch thick information repellent. Anyway. SOPA, or the inventive pre-acronym ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’, is the latest moron-initiated abomination to be proposed to a room of people who feel no ramification or consequences purported by their decisions, yet remain somehow perpetually oblivious, and continue to do things nobody likes, in the name of doing things people like.
If you search PIPA on Google, however, despite the subject’s recent infamy, you still recover a website that sells racing pigeons, a pharmaceutical information portal and a Wiki article about a four stringed Chinese musical instrument. PIPA in fact stands for the Protect IP Act, which is largely SOPA with different letters.
So, to answer your, by now no doubt festering, incessant questioning, SOPA and PIPA are Governmental bills that, essentially, threaten to apply restrictive, intrusive and damaging laws to the world wide internets.
The fact a GOOGLE search brings up a WIKIPEDIA article is almost as perfect an analogy as one could hope for, as, should these bills pass, these two information highway big guns will end up with more breaches than an equestrian charity collection (think about it).
Horse-riding attire related assonance aside though; we’ll finally get to some details. The length and breadth of SOPA stands in its brutal allowance of the CLOSURE (or blocking, more accurately) of any website that is seen to be purveying copyrighted material of any kind, in any form. Punishment can involve up to five years in prison, whilst the range of internet-related tom foolery that would fall under the banner is mind-stabbingly expanse. Stream any video, post any music, use any screenshot. Gaming websites, even (or especially) the big ones wouldn’t stand a chance, with the wealth of their content relying largely on the back of captured video and screenshots, and the same goes for the vibrant and self-motivated community that pours hours into creating user generated content to help you nail achievements, or the plethora of home-made DIY reviews and in-game novelties uploaded to YouTube. This, and an unimaginable amount more (the entirely impossible vastness of Wikipedia’s information portal, for example?) would be stamped out at a moment’s notice, changing, stifling the internet forever.
It’s ludicrous. Literal, shirt flailing, cardboard eating, head-scratching insanity, to take one of the few notable achievements of this generation, the worldwide culture that is the freedom-draped corridors of the internet, and cordon them off with the doe-handed precision of a wrecking ball. The armament of this bill would empower law enforcement to bring down an entire domain and its community with it, without need for appeal or paperwork, or even a moment to formulate a coherent, rational thought, evidently. Utter madness.
This nightmarish vision of the future, like a plot twist taken directly from ‘V For Vendetta’ and other such bleak-outlook hospitaliters, contorts the ideas of those very stories, the ones involving police-state futures and Government-ran livelihoods, into something harrowingly real. And we should all be extremely put out.
Whilst the bill’s baffling supporters (MPAA, RIAA, Warner etc.) are presumably supporters because they haven’t read it, or they are, in fact, an eccentric alien race sent to Earth to bring down the establishment that is humanity from within (it’d definitely make sense, they’ve started by putting Cameron in the house, and Ant and Dec back on the tele) there has, of course, been plenty of opposition.
The internet is a volatile place. It’s a place where community thrives in such a manner that outrageous, contemptuous, arguably offensive humour often takes the centre stage; viral quotes and phrases from videos and forum threads have a daily turn around, anything can catch on and spread like a fire in Brian Blessed’s armpit in literally minutes. Ridicule is ripe, and so is unhinged, ill-informed, wild spieling that is no more than the result of idle journalism and hyperbole over-opinion. But a lot of that latter point is down to Mark Guest.
What we mean by that is essentially, you don’t make a stand of such inexplicable devastation in the direction of the internet and expect there not to be an unholy uproar. And an uproar there was. Sort of. Over 100,000 websites blacked out on the 18th of January in protest, whilst a number larger than I can imagine (four) put up protest banners and anti-SOPA-related home-page covers. Wikipedia, Reddit, huge Tumblr and WordPress blogs, Mozilla and Google all took a stand and blacked out for the day, in what was a historical, and relatively successful campaign.
As a result of International Save the Internet and Be Awesome Day, the balance in congress between supporters and objectors swung violently in favour of the objectors, knocking three innocent bystanders unconscious and breaking an expensive clock. For the moment, the bill has been shelved. Without a doubt, an emblazoned victory for such internet activism, proof that such a hostile place can unite in times of collective disrupt. They’re going to paint a giant troll face on the front of the White House when this is all sorted.
‘All sorted’ however, might be scouting dangerously close to over-optimism territory. There’s a high chance there’ll be a resurgence for the bills amongst supporters sometime in the near future, we’re certainly not out of the water yet.
After Obama stated that he would not support the bill (in a large victory for anti-SOPA campaigners who’ve since regarded his stand point as ‘helpful’) hilarious colonel corporate clot Rupert Murdoch Tweeted a scathing reply, like a child, accusing Google of being ‘crazy land pirates’. Google reportedly gave Murdoch an incredulous look, and then asked who he was.
In summary, SOPA threatens the way we live. The internet has become an integral part of modern culture, it is a place where anything can be said by anyone, a place that offers free education and the opportunity to learn, teach, express, grow and inform, with the only requirements in motivation and passion. To have that taken away from us, in an Orwellian-esque Government move to further enforce their control would be implausibly damaging. Whilst protests have battered the bills back, the chances are it will resurge, and when it does, you must all be prepared to fight against it, to champion a free internet, and to consider over-enthusiastic, embellished, faux-inspirational reports like this a definitive call to arms.