Thursday, January 26, 2012

Weighing in on SOPA and PIPA

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," the sole intellectual property of me, Anne Johnson! If you quote more than ten percent of this post, I am going to tell the government I've been ripped off, and they'll shut down Google.

Well, I don't know. That seems pretty extreme to me, but this is what I hear through the grapevine, i.e., the Internet. There's some legislation about intellectual property that could have far-reaching implications for our "business as usual" here in cyberspace.

Theft of intellectual property is no laughing matter, because people do work hard on music, art, books, newspaper articles, films, all the rest. And when consumers are able to re-use or enjoy that work without compensating the artist, it does lead to more starvation in garrets.

 In the case of newspapers, they just didn't think quickly enough. Instead of banding together, throwing up firewalls, and charging for their content, they opened web sites that essentially provide the product for free. But in the 1990s, newspapers couldn't see into the future any more than Kanye could. If you give people access to something like the Internet, they're going to use their imaginations to make it work best for them. Which means, they're going to look for ways to get bang for their buck, or freebies when freebies can be had.

You will excuse me if I feel no sympathy for the film industry. Is it my fault that they spare no expense with their special effects? I don't go online looking for free films, but I also shed no tears for Big Entertainment. The rest of us are tightening our belts. Disney, don't come crying to me.

What concerns me about the online policing that SOPA and PIPA represent is the chilling effect it could have on freedom of speech. I wonder if we would see college students getting pepper-sprayed during Occupy. Our government is already herding journalists into cattle chutes, keeping them as distant from the front as possible -- whether it's in Afghanistan or Berkeley. Enter the People with their phones. (Alas, I'm not one of the People. My phone doesn't do film, and I wouldn't know how to work it if it did.)

Like it or not, the Internet has changed our world forever, and it has done so in a jiffy. It's going to keep doing so in the future, in even more of a jiffy. And it will have its downside, probably eventually fatal to millions of people -- because from my point of view (admittedly bleak), this is the way history tends after any big innovation.

In the meantime, we at "The Gods Are Bored" just want a little space to praise and worship Those who know best what any sea change can bring: forgotten Gods and Goddesses from the deep mists of time. They listen. They act. Be careful what you wish for.

But I think you're on safe ground wishing for a free and uncensored Internet. The Gods I see are so desperate for recognition that They check every search engine looking for any sign that They might be re-discovered.

I'm Anne Johnson ... always and forever Anne Johnson ... and I approve this message.


Kristen Eaton said...

Yes! The internet has many weaknesses, but it's most important strength, I believe, is its potential for grassroots action - and this is only because it provides unfettered communication. I'm not sanguine about handing the government tools to censor that...

Moma Fauna said...

Nice post.

Wait... just whose turkey vulture photo did you 'steal,' I mean, 'borrow' for this post Anne? ;)

Anne Johnson said...

It's a California condor, and I got it from a buzzard worship site dot org. I admit that I use images without attribution, but I choose ones that have been used multiple times. The only image I have used that makes me a little nervous is one of Ric Sanatorium that I got from the Gnu Yorkie Thymes. But that sure is the exception for me!


they mess with my internet I will bip them into a coma

Moma Fauna said...

Hah! I stand corrected on the species in question. Lazy assumption-maker that I am. I am not a bird-nerd, much as I have tried. They move too fast. Give me a mushroom please, I'll have a better shot at the ID.

I do hope you know I was just razzing you. I figure, if they put it out there, they should at least put their name on it if they want to get their panties all in a bunch later when someone snatches it. (And snatch they will!)

I commend you on your bravery. I would not even dare post an image of the Sanitarium Man lest it gave my blog cooties.