Oh, why don’t you look at that, it’s another aviationally written post, in the words of Henry Dyer, written, as usual, on the way to London on a cramped, full to the brim airbus A320. And lookie here, why yes, it’s yet another title longing for a good old rant. I have written two similarly titled posts before, part 1 and part 2. Compared to what I shall discuss [yes, we all know my definition of discuss] in this post, those were merely trivial and mundane topics.
Have I peaked your interest yet? No? How about if I told you that the Internet as we know it could possibly come to an end depending on the decisions of a few people, bent on helping industries and not consumers? No? Really? Well, then you are stubborn person [coming from me, that’s rich], enjoy your little encapsulated bubble that us your life.
For all of those who I actually peaked the interests of, let me introduce you to the E-PARASITE and PROTECT-IP. No, they are not life threatening microbial life forms that will somehow kill the “rulers” of the Internet (if you are stupid enough to believe such people exist, ignoring the whole argument of ISPs and such other things). No, they are not a malicious hacker group out to destroy the world, and no, it’s not a virus. I invite you to guess. Can’t b bothered? Neither am I, so I will just tell you.
It’s a bill being proposed to the US congress. To be precise, PROTECT-IP was proposed to the Senate, and when they rejected it, the “people” (the evil content overlords) rewrote it to become the much worse E-PARASITE act, both acronyms by the way, standing for something totally unnecessary and silly.
I think you are curious now, right? What are these things? Why are they so bad? If you were not clever enough or too lazy to go and look them up by this stage, let me tell you, THEY’RE BAD!
Ok, ok, no more mucking about. In general, what these acts will do is give the US government the power to cut off websites that are portraying copyrighted material. But wait? Isn’t this already the case? Yes, in some regards. The copyright holder has to currently go through a lengthy court trial, similar to what happened in the UK with the Newsbin2 site. However, this would allow the copyright holder to order ALL ISPs (Internet service providers) to cut off access. On top of that, there is also a plan to put copyright infringers in jail.
So, what does that exactly mean? Well, if you ever posted a YouTube video with copyrighted background music, you are liable. If you ever use a copyrighted photo on your blog, you are liable (oh crap) and if you ever show a clip, segment, quote, etc. Guess what? You’re liable. Here is a real world example: you know Justin Bieber (shivers…)? He became famous by posting YouTube videos, playing background music. He could possibly go to jail.
“OH DEAR GOD, THIS BILL MUST BE PASSED!” I imagine many of you are shouting at the top of your lungs at whatever computer or mobile device you have just read this on. “HE IS A THREAT TO OUR SANITY” I imagine I will see in the comments, but hold on one second, this affects every other internet user in America. Imagine a third of the American population in jail. Not good, most will agree. We can deal with the excuse of a human that is Bieber for a few more years until the world forgets him and his awful music he did not write.
Let’s take another perspective. This will destroy startups and result in monopolies ruling entire industries. Startups rely on the Internet, and the second it’s censored, they all desert the country and go somewhere else. They are creating the “Great firewall of America” like the one in China.
A last thought, what about the policy that governs the entire judicial system worldwide? The full-proof idealism that ensures a trial to be as fair as possible?
One is innocent until proven guilty.
This act is a direct contradiction and insult to this policy: the second a copyright holder has reported a site, it is blocked. So technically, one is guilty until proven innocent? Very just, right?
To be honest, I seem to recall a situation not to different from this. Actually, many. For the older folks out there, remember the first photocopier and how everybody complained that it would destroy the notion of copyright? Remember the VCR? The video recorder? Radio? Heck, I can even see the first pencil being considered a copyright infringement tool by the first Stone Age copyright enforcers. All these, except for the pencil, are moderated and controlled by governments and cooperation’s. Why do you think the FCC is there?
They are all trying to do the same thing with the Internet. They see what it is able to do. For the first time in decades, people are seizing back power and bringing about change for the better. The governments are scared, and I see this as a last-ditch attempt. The thing is, the Internet is not like TV or radio, and it has more in common with the pencil.
TV and radio are one-way channels. Producers decide what we watch or listen to and that is the end of the story. Want to watch your favorite show in the morning? Too bad, the news is on. The Internet allows for collaborative works, like handing a pencil to your friend and starting to doodle on a piece of paper together, or brainstorming ideas.
The Internet is a network, not a channel or stream. It’s a blank open landscape, where you can talk to, collaborate with, conduct research with, and take a break with whoever and whatever you want. And that is the exact reason why the Internet cannot be censored. They can try to do whatever they want, block whoever they want, place as many servers as they want, but in the end, it will be cracked. As my good friend says, “software is virtual. It is not tangible. There is no physical barrier. Software, no matter how much one tries to secure it and protect it, can always be Broken”. This idea can be taken both ways in terms of security, but the US government needs to accept it as the truth, before the entire rest make the same mistake. It is impossible to censor the Internet, and that is fact. That is the primary reason why I am against this: although I don’t live in the US, their decisions will influence the UK heavily, as they have similar laws already in the pipeline. These laws might make us buy more Hollywood overpriced films, but they will destroy what the internet has stood for over its short life so far.
So, I ask all to voice your opinions wherever you can. Sign petitions, comment on similar stories (hint hint…) and share the stories on your networks. The more people know about this, the better, and we just might be able to stop a worldwide catastrophe.
To finish off in the customary way: