Why SOPA And PIPA And Other Anti-Piracy Bullshit Measures Matter To Writers

First and foremost, let’s just put it out there —

No, this site did not blackout for the protest.

Wikipedia blacking out? Thumbs-up. They have a global audience. I don’t. I blackout and what happens? I miss a handful of new readers and a handful of new sales. In the all in all, nobody soaks their pillows with tears that I’m gone. Besides, what will I do if not obsessively refresh my blog numbers?


Instead, I’d rather talk a little bit about SOPA and PIPA.

It is, I think, easy to convince writers that anti-piracy legislation is a good thing. And while I’m not stridently anti-pirate (for a number of reasons we can discuss in the comments, chief among them being “I don’t think it matters as much as people think it matters”), I grok those who want to shut down All Pirates All The Time. Pirates are bad, after all. They steal our shit. They plunder our grog barrels. Fine. Good. Yes.

Problem, though:

You done got swindled, sons and daughters of the creative age.

SOPA and PIPA are not about piracy.

They are about control.

See, the Internet is this unruly pubic tangle of possibility. It is raw potential given form and it puts a great deal of power in the hands of the individual (are you listening, creative-types?). Power in the hands of individuals can, in some cases, wrest power from the hands of corporations. And corporations don’t like that, so they go to the government and they pour giant buckets of money into the government’s slavering maw and lobby for legislation and the result is, in this case, SOPA, PIPA, and any other naughty anti-pirate hydra-heads that pop up.

Writers and creatives — again, as individuals — have a lot of opportunity in the Internet Age, in part due to the innovation and distribution the Internet offers, in part due to the social media that connects us all. Harming these by harming the Internet then harms free expression. And that’s no good.

Just to be clear, in case you don’t realize what it means to give corporations power over censorship and the subject of artistic originality, please cast an eye no further to the MPAA, whose arbitrary and often insane ratings of films put out by the film industry help stifle creativity and the craft and art of filmmaking. You really want that kind of control over sites like YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, Google, Wikipedia?

No, you do not.

SOPA and PIPA hit the issue with a hammer when what’s called for is a scalpel. (That’s how our government seems to respond to everything anymore, but I suppose that’s a conversation for another time.)

Anyway, others can discuss this matter with far greater aplomb than I —

Visit AmericanCensorship.org to learn more.

In summation:

Fuck SOPA. Shit on PIPA.

Freeze-frame high-five.


59 responses to “Why SOPA And PIPA And Other Anti-Piracy Bullshit Measures Matter To Writers”

  1. I did black out, but I don’t sell anything through my site… Here’s something a friend posted on Facebook that I thought summed things up nicely:

    My friend Carl Jester on SOPA.

    “You work as a mall Santa.

    You like writing about that. You decide to start writing about that again at livejournal.com.

    Somebody brings their child to see you, and takes a video of it. They post that video to YouTube. Then they come to your blog and post a link to that video in the comments. When the video was taken, somebody happened to be playing a popular song, and it’s heard in the background.

    Along comes a music label who says “we own that, you don’t have the rights to use it.” Under DMCA today, their recourse is to tell YouTube to delete the video.

    Under SOPA they can order that YouTube and LiveJournal simply be blocked for everybody everywhere. Not just the one video, all of Youtube. And not just your blog – all of LiveJournal. And the bills did add immunity for over-blocking, which means nobody has any liability for blocking things they shouldn’t.

    In addition to these drastic measures, there are other problems.
    * The burden of proof is negligible for the “rights holders” (the studios and labels that publish the movies and music – keep in mind they’re middlemen, and not actually the creators).
    * The burden for proving fair use or error is extremely high. It’s very difficult to get incorrect blockages removed, because there’s only liability for not blocking.
    * The labels and studios have a horrible track record under DMCA. They have repeatedly issued take-down notices for things they don’t own. They’ve had cases thrown out of court because they acted in bad faith, or completely had their facts wrong.
    * While many of the bogus take-down notices are just sloppy, some were dishonest. A couple weeks ago a label took down a video they didn’t like. They simply objected to the message. YouTube had given them access to block videos, but they’re only supposed to block stuff they own the rights to. They didn’t like the message in this one, and blocked it – twice in one day – knowing they didn’t have any grounds.

    Beyond that, there’s technical problems with their proposal, it breaks how some of the mechanics of the internet works, and undermines some of the security features and help ensure that you’re visiting the site you think you are, and not a scam imposter.

    BTW, you’re also taking the “it’s about preventing piracy” claim at face value. That’s also questionable. None of what they’re proposing is really all that effective at combating piracy – especially not for the professionals.”

  2. […] SOPA/PIPA was obviously at the center of the news this week (see the banner in the corner). After reading many articles on the subject I think that one by the brilliant Chuck Wendig sums it up the best: Why SOPA and PIPA and Other Anti-Piracy Bullshit Matters to Writers. […]

  3. I, too, did not black my blog out, but spent the day reading (the 70+ page lawyer-speak document… What was I thinking?!) and researching the whole ordeal Where, oh where, were you then, Chuck? (Here, I’m guessing. My bad.)

    Thanks for putting it all in perspective, Chuck. Next time my blonde-ness blindfolds my social media logic, here is where I’ll turn.

  4. Agree w/ govt. about stopping piracy. Disagree with govt. about trying to be too freaking controlling. For right now, we have it pretty nice in America w/ a govt. that more or less tolerates free speech (with some grinding of teeth). Hope it stays that way. Hope this won’t be the first step to more stringent measures.

  5. SORRY FOR THE SIZE OF THE (very opinionated) POST!!! (my view might not be your view, but honestly, who wants to read their own view?)

    I propose that every bill/law/negotiation go to the internet for the public to scrutinize before it gets proposed, and every time it gets altered. Like a wiki for laws and the proposer of the idea will be able to discuss the good points, receive feedback and better decisions can be made.

    These secret and swift laws are just going to lead into a bloody revolution and nobody really wants that.

    Open communication binds people together and strengthens unity. (husband+wife, children+parents, government+people, one nation+another nation) I believe it to be a universal truth. If you stop talking (like North Korea), your bonds become weaker which creates instability.

    Copyrighting is a terrible plague on humanity and actually only benefits a few rich people for a short time. (if someone copyrighted the letter “I” (eye) for instance).

    Even deeper than that, the culture could not have grown. (Language would have never been invented because only one person would legally have spoken it)

    I personally appreciate good art and pay for it, I am also an artist. I would like to see a bill proposed to abolish copyrights. I’m sorry, but art is meant to be shared, the money will come if you are any good.

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