Well in more dumb news, the showdown has arrived. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) copyright infringement and-a-bunch-of-other-stuff legislation currently being debated in Congress has created a schism of sorts. It effectively pits content creators (including large media corporations, news organizations, hollywood studios, and Yours Truly) against content providors (including Google, Facebook, internet providers, news organizations, and, er – Yours Truly.)
The supposed spirit of the bills are to protect the copyright of content creators, and give them more power to go after infringers and piraters (doing what I did above for example, a collage of SOPA blackout protest screenshots, for which I did not ask permission). It takes existing copyright legislation and gives it more teeth. The effect would probably be horrible, as most hamfisted legislation tends to do. Not only can you go after infringers, but you can also go after the infrastructure that enables that infringement to happen. Most likely it would shift power to mega corporations like Google and Facebook who would then control what you can do and see on the internet…. (get it?)
It would mean the end of the Wild West Internet (good and bad), and the beginning of some kind of corporate-run war-on-drugs type internet (bad). Lots of companies, like Google and Facebook, have built their business, for better or worse, by ignoring and/or turning a blind eye toward copyright infringement. Otherwise there would be no way to display search engine results or videos of cats dancing to Michael Jackson.
The ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers), long the watchdog and rigorous defender of photographers rights and copyright, is on board with the bills, in spirit, supporting amendments to the text (here) – Click HERE and search “SOPA”. Though they support it, they are not exactly shouting it from the mountain tops.
Photographers have long battled infringement and piracy, with mostly pathetic results. The legislation is probably more about countering the growing power of China Inc than helping us photographers make a buck, and I don’t support SOPA, but I hope we don’t lose sight of the importance of copyright protection. The danger in this Age of Protest is that any talk of copyright protection will be hereafter met with a molotov cocktail.
So take that black mask from Urban Outfitters off your face, read the summary of the bill, think for yourself and Let’s talk: