What Would Internet Censorship Mean For Americans

Without exaggerating an iota, internet censorship would mean the total and complete end to freedom of speech in the United States.

Recently, the internet took up arms against two bills that flopped in congress: SOPA and PIPA. These were the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, respectively.

The names of these bills are misleading. Who could possibly be against protecting artists, right? Of course, SOPA and PIPA would allow the entertainment industry to stop pirates, but they would also allow them to stop, well, anyone they didn’t like.

Under SOPA and PIPA, groups like the RIAA and the MPAA would be allowed to shut down literally any website or online service they thought threatened their intellectual properties or violated copyright.

This definition would extend to all of the following:

  1. Fan made remixes of songs
  2. Fan art
  3. Spoofs and parodies
  4. Humorous recuts of movie trailers
  5. Video of a movie used in a movie review
  6. Images used in advertisement
  7. User profile pictures featuring movie characters

The list goes on and on, but we haven’t got all day, so we’ll leave it at this: The basic idea is that if the entertainment industry feels that they can argue that you’re violating a copyright, they can not only shut you down, but they can shut down your host, everyone who communicates with you online, your email service, your servers, and on and on.

This would mean that for a single copyright violation, all of Youtube would be shut down.

For a single copyright violation, all of Facebook would be shut down.

For a single copyright violation, your favorite online game is shut down.

Here’s the great thing about the internet: It levels the playing field. The record industry and people from the film industry are complaining that it’s piracy that’s digging into their pockets, but the fact is that it’s competition from below.

It’s people like your nephew who started his own band, your co-worker who makes funny internet videos, your brother who has a webcomic, these are the people cutting into the pockets of the billion dollar studios. A lot of people would rather watch Youtube all day than go to the movies.

The entertainment industry want to have total control of the playing field just as they did in the past. The game has changed, and because of the empowerment and the voice that the internet has given the people, it will never go back to the way it was before.

SOPA and PIPA failed because the entertainment industry caught on too late that the internet was going to provide serious competition. They’ve tried to hide this in the costume of protecting the artists, but the truth is that piracy is not a very big problem for artists.

Have you ever heard a local band complain that millions and millions of people are listening to their music on the internet for free? The problem artists face is not piracy, it’s the fear of not being seen, not being heard, and piracy, if anything, means that they’re getting free publicity.

This is a constant fight and it’s not partisan. The MPAA has effectively come out and issued a promise to stop donating to congressmen who don’t vote in their favor, openly bribing and blackmailing their pocket politicians in public, and even Al Franken, a democrat, has stuck by these bills even as the rest of congress has made a majority vote against them.

What We Must Do: First of all, don’t rely on the rest of the internet to do this for you. Get involved. Stay informed, read the news, read every bill thoroughly before forming an opinion on it, and make a lot of noise. Write your congressman, make videos on the web, write songs about it, blog about it and don’t let the voice of the people be silenced.

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