The Post-SOPA World: How it Affects You . . . Tube.
Hey there fellow Ogeeku!
How’s it going there! If you don’t know who I am, then I know you don’t watch Ogeeku LIVE! on Thursdays, and thus don’t get to see me get awfully inebriated with my buddy (and future fighting game champion of the universe) Mike Spragg for your entertainment.
Because it’s not as if I like drinking Mead and punching blacksmiths in Skyrim for my own amusement! Why, the very thought makes my blood boil! No, I do it for you, the viewers at home! Heck, I even occasionally dole out Ogeeku points, and you folks occasionally actually get them (if I remember)!
Do I expect thanks? Hell no! Why? Because I’m ludicrously generous, that’s why!
Anyways, among various projects that I am completing today, I figured adding a little more content to good old Ogeeku seemed like just the thing to do. But about what?
Well, I figured I’d talk to you folks today about something . . . important? Yes, yes, I know, I know. Usually my articles can pretty much be summed up with “Old dude talks about stuff he liked when he was a kid that make folks think he’s still a virgin.”
Important things, especially those under a certain category – and especially a certain word – can be scary. This one especially so, for it’s the word that everyone fears getting dropped into a conversation at parties.
The word that makes fans of light, casual conversation about the weather and whatever the hell Miley Cyrus or whoever is currently up on the top of the pops (whoa, I’m not THAT old, that’s like fifties terminology) to cringe in terror.
The word that turns off everyone who prefers to not get involved to plug their ears, dunk their head in a bucket of sand, and then go “LA LA LA LA LALA LALA LALA LAAAAAAAAH!”
(Although if they were in sand and their head were upside down, that might clog up their wind pipe and/or be physically impossible)
THE DREADED WORD!
THE BAD WORD OF WHICH WE MUST NOT SPEAK!!
THE WORD OF WHICH THERE IS NO TONGUE IN THE LANGUAGES OF ALL MANKIND THAT CAN CONTAIN IT’S BLIGHT ONCE IT FALLS UPON THINE VIRGIN EARS!!!
Specifically, as I want to talk about SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, and it’s conjoined and just as malformed siamese twin, PIPA and all of the harm they can d-
Jon already talked about that? Like a month ago?
Well . . .
. . . double darn-it to heck!
Alright, well, I was just going to link you guys to this video that pretty much explains the whole situation pretty well anyways. The guy in the link does a pretty good job of it I thought, and he has a smooth British voice for all the ladies reading out there. Or if you prefer a manly, American voice, here’s Stephen Colbert’s take. But after that I had no real game plan with this. It was totally spur of the moment, “Hey toss the folks a link or three” and be done with it.
I really don’t know what to do now.
Except . . . maybe?
Yeah . . . that first link (the British dude, not Colbert) is part of the point, isn’t it? More specifically, the site it links to.
You see, one of the dangerous things about SOPA is that it could theoretically shut down many of the common sites you probably use every day. How? Because even if those sites tried to comply with the new rules and laws it presents, due to the rather hazy legal terminology it contains, corporations can use some rather far reaching power to more directly attack websites with less publicity and through indirect means, like starving them of ad revenue. Another ability corporations looking to attack a site they accuse of promoting piracy granted by SOPA? Blocking ISPs from accessing the site entirely!
You know, like a blacklist. Because when has creating a blacklist of foes ever NOT been a sign of evil megalomania?
Sure, the writers of the bill say they only want to use it for sites that are dedicated to distributing unlicensed material. You know, the capital “P” Piracy sites. Which, in the eyes of most folks (including myself) seems like a completely reasonable claim. It seems so simple, and easy, and heck, obvious. Not that big a deal really.
However, it’s not simple, and it IS a big deal. The potential ramifications are so wide ranging and loosely stated that it becomes hard to understand how everything could play out were the bill passed, especially for the folks actually voting on it. They likely see a bill that seems to have noble intentions (FIGHTS PIRATES – YAY!), uses a lot of language and techno-talk they don’t understand (SERVERS? HOW DO THEY WORK?), and is heavily endorsed by a lot of big American businesses that say it protects them (PROTECTIONS ARE ALWAYS USED FOR GOOD AMIRITE?), and who even go to say that it will protect and perhaps even promote more jobs (JOBS? WE NEED MOAR RITE NOW! ECONOMY. BAAAAAAD!).
In all likelihood, it’s this inability to perceive of just how much power this would give corporations over the internet and the way it’s run, the sheer magnitude of what that would actually mean, that would give the SOPA/PIPA bills the greatest chance to pass when they get back to voting on them (recently delayed till the new year). Especially since many of them basically admitted they have no idea of how the technology works with the law and this is WHY they ended up delaying the vote for the first time.
So what I figure I should do then, is try to make the issue smaller. To make it a little more personal and hit a little closer to home. If not for the folks who are going to vote on this bill, then for anyone reading this. To show you a specific reason as to why you should care.
You know which site some in the entertainment industry consider to be among the ranks of sites “dedicated to distributing unlicensed material”?
Yeah, Youtube. One of the most important sites currently on the internet, the one that has launched careers and memes and rickroll’d millions along the way. The one that I don’t think most reasonable people would consider a “dangerous” site by any means. Annoying maybe, but not dangerous.
Media conglomerate Viacom would disagree there. It was involved in a 3-YEAR LONG LAWSUIT that basically had them seeking huge tracts of land/barrels of cash from Youtube.
Youtube won the suit because as it turns out, they had complied with everything in the DMCA to the best of their ability. Though defeated, I imagine this was when Viacom walked away slowly, swearing vengeance. SOPA could allow Viacom to get that revenge.
SOPA’s proponents claim that it would in no way affect Youtube, but then, we just have to take their word on that. Since the actual language of what and who can be targeted doesn’t say it won’t, and pretty much makes it so that a company only need to file a simple complaint without going to trial, or even notifying the site first, and there’s plenty of history that shows that folks can and will abuse these types of laws to remove stuff they simply don’t like, I think it’s safe to say that Youtube (among many other sites) won’t not get targeted almost immediately.
Hey, you know a totally fair thing this reminds me of that in no way resembles corruption having a hand in these proceedings? When you find that the people you don’t like aren’t breaking the laws you accuse them of breaking: MAKE A NEW LAW. Yeah, that’s totally fair.
And remember, this is just Youtube I’m talking about. One site. A big site, sure, but still only one of many. SOPA as a whole has implications that affect so many other websites (and never in a positive way), from blogs to social networking, that I know I can’t conceive of a post-SOPA internet right now. Then there’s the fact that it allows US companies to take down non-US sites, which has “international screw-up” written all over it.
So let’s say SOPA actually passes. What then? Well it’s again, complicated, even if you simply look at Youtube.
Assuming it isn’t shut down entirely, a lot of stuff wouldn’t be affected. SMBC Theater sketches or other groups that produce high quality original content would be A-OK. As would “Chocolate Rain”, or the myriad puppy videos, schoolyard fights, pleas to leave Britney Alone, clips of kids coming down off drugs, and the never ending rants between Atheists and Religious types (oh joy) that never use any copyrighted material of any kind.
So what will be taken down? Well, a LOT of stuff that makes all the most annoying parts much more bearable that just so happens to use copyrighted material. Stuff made by funny folks using editing software who most likely weren’t given permission beforehand to get a little wacky with some video. Stuff you might have liked too.
So, just in case reason doesn’t win the day, just in case you soon start hearing the cops knock on the door because you dared to post an AMV, I want to salute some of the things I’m guessing will be missing from a post-SOPA Youtube:
Goodbye film montage supercuts!
You were a great way to point out silly similarities, and will be missed!
Goodbye new attempts at overly long deconstructions of terrible media! Goodbye any future Mr. Plinketts or Angry Video Game Nerds!
You were a fascinating way to package intelligent criticism in an envelope of comedy, but if Yuri Gellar can take down videos he doesn’t even own, I’m pretty sure film studios can circumvents your ability to claim fair use for the purposes of criticism, can’t they?
Goodbye tiny, short clips from shows and films that make perfect links for some out of context humor or as an example for a forum post! Nice while it lasted.
Adios re-purposed footage that’s edited to create completely different context, you could be rather hilarious at times.
Goodbye Abridged Anime series. Though you are usually parodying works, you were already in a legal gray area since you contain so much of the original content.
Goodbye gigantic plethora of AMVs, there’s no way those are surviving this.
Yes, even you, Youtube Poop, deserve a fond farewell. Though you were usually quite annoying, and often caused many bleeding ears and mental breakdowns, even you could occasionally prove to be brilliant. Occasionally.
And it goes on and on! I’d start figuring out ways to download some of your favorites soon, because hey, this stuff could all be gone and sooner than you think.
Oh and let’s not forget that a lot of folks having relatively harmless fun making these videos would be facing severe felony charges, and that this is a best case scenario (seriously, a total shut down would be very possible).
If the site IS shut down entirely though, no worries! it turns out that though SOPA prevents people from accessing sites at their fundamental levels, there are lots of ways to get around it. Of course these are all methods that, if you understand anything about internet piracy, the very pirates that are the alleged target of SOPA know exactly how to use as well.
Which means that not only is SOPA oppressive and basically the legislative equivalent of Buzz Killington with an axe to grind, it’s also highly ineffective!
Again, this is just one site. How will the rest of the internet start looking post-SOPA?
Well my immediate image is of a pre-2000 internet. It isn’t pretty. Oh, but it will probably have a lot more advertising too. And run a lot slower as well, since much of what SOPA is designed to do could clog up the internet with a bunch of unnecessary gateways.
That’s right! Even if you wouldn’t ever use sites that SOPA would effect in anyway whatsoever, you’ll probably start getting slower service! Because SOPA sucks just that much.
You know what you must do. Call your congressman if you live in the US. Or if you own stocks in the companies that support SOPA, use your shareholder power to please ask them to knock this the fuck off, or failing that, just sell the stock and lower their profit margins? If you live near any of the congress people who support the bill but who have already broken its own rules, why not use your money wisely and start egging some houses? OK, that’s petty. Why not just use protesting techniques that prevent them from voting? Like handcuffing your selves in a human chain around their homes to prevent them from going to vote?
Think of something! Or Anonymous gets involved and scares all the fogeys into passing even more Draconian laws making everything worse! Do something more proactive before the whole situation starts devolving (or don’t if that’s something you for some reason want to see, jerkass).
Because here’s the thing: In an internet where this is wrong, I don’t want to be right.