SOPA: Your Role as Artist and Advocate

by Mark Doyon on Art and creativity, Music business 12 Jan, 2012

Some people think the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is about censoring content creators. Others think it is about guarding intellectual property. Either way, the proposed legislation is about the control of creative works. It promises to have a measurable impact on everyone who disseminates and accesses content via the internet.

In a (generalized) nutshell, the pro-SOPA lobby represents factions that control the most valuable creative content. These include the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and other big-business groups. The anti-SOPA lobby represents factions trying to introduce and build value in new content, such as independent content creators, tech innovators, and third-party content aggregators (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

Sound familiar? Food for thought:

 

Behind SOPA: What It Means for Business and Innovation
Infographic via: Business Insurance Blog

Aside from its promise to generate plenty of legal red tape, SOPA is a complex bill with both potential drawbacks (censorship) and potential benefits (control of creative works) for recording artists. As you sift through the propaganda on both sides, consider this: Sen. Al Franken, one of the most progressive legislators in Congress (and a lifelong creative), supports SOPA. Rep. Ron Paul, one of the most reactionary, opposes it. If that surprises you, you should get up to speed on SOPA before you sign any petitions. There are corporate interests lined up on both sides of the aisle, and none of them are particularly interested in the fate of your latest song.

The debate goes far deeper than piracy, to who really owns digital content. Do you know where you stand?

You don’t need to worry about the interests of Microsoft or Facebook or Dell or Google or Sony or eBay (despite their gaudily financed pleas). Instead study and understand how SOPA will affect the long-term viability of your creative work. And then raise your voice to the rafters.

 

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4 Responses to “SOPA: Your Role as Artist and Advocate”

  1. Polite Inquisitor says:

    I enjoyed very much your post on SOPA, and I second your suggestion that people dig more deeply than their local vocal advocate would have them look. This isn’t simply an evil or great bill; the law would have benefits and consequences, and a knowledgeable weighing of those costs and benefits would help anyone determine how strongly they’d like to support or oppose it.

    I was struck, though, by your characterization of Ron Paul as “one of the most reactionary” legislators. I would think that friends and foes alike would characterize Rep. Paul as anything but reactionary — whether you think his brand of proposed changes is genius or insanity, it certainly doesn’t represent opposition to change or reform — at the least, it proposes significant change, and at the most, the change could be characterized as radical. This seems antonymous with “reactionary.” I’ll concede that opposition to the Federal Reserve or advocacy of return to the gold standard do superficially recall a past, but it’s so markedly different from the status quo that the advocacy for the change seems, again, to be anything but reactionary. Dismantling the military, minimizing foreign entanglements, , eliminating prohibition — all strike this reader as not “reactionnary.”

    Anyway, the thrust of your article was good and thoughtful — you just threw me by your characterization.

    • Wampus says:

      Thank you, your point is well taken. Ron Paul is no more or less “reactionary” than Al Franken is “progressive,” and those words no sooner characterize them in full than any single word describes any person. The point is that these are “strange bedfellows,” players aligned in ways we might not expect, and that we should not perceive the debate in terms of left and right. We should instead consider the nuances of intellectual property ownership and the threat posed to free speech (and free commerce) by SOPA.

  2. Polite Inquisitor says:

    “Strange bedfellows” indeed.

    I see you got the bootleg photos taken in the cloakroom during a joint session.

    Sorry; that’s another post.

    Anyway, as I mentioned, I like the acknowledgment (admission?) that SOPA requires a careful weighing of legitimate interests.

    I’ve concluded that the bill is a gross overreach which effectively ignores due process, putting the punishment and remedy ahead of the determination of wrongdoing. But I recognize that right-thinking men and women may differ.

  3. Wampus says:

    It’s an admission, certainly. Not every content creator opposes SOPA (David Lowery of Cracker came out against “the opposition” yesterday), but that hasn’t been covered much by the media. Perhaps it’s fair to say SOPA is a flawed bill with both good and bad intentions. And the bad part should be enough to kill it. The goal of any legislation of this kind should be to preserve the freedom and egalitarianism of the internet *while* protecting the basic rights of content creators.

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