I am very pleased about the mass protest that has stopped SOPA and PIPA for the time being. I am horrified at the way the mass entertainment industry has taken upon itself the role of policing the public outside as well as inside the USA.

They claim to be fighting piracy but I beg to differ. Piracy (which is to be deplored) is the use of someone else’s work without consent for profit, either not sharing that profit with the originator or seriously decreasing the originator’s chances of making a profit.

Sites that provide downloads of films, music, and books without consent,for payment, are piracy and of course should be prevented from operating. However, karaoke sessions, remix vids on YouTube, fanfiction, reviews that quote/illustrate, etc. etc. are not piracy. In fact, they often act as free advertising for the original works.

Some free downloads of films etc. are piracy but others are a desperate attempt to share with the world the work of actors, singers etc. whose films/TV shows/music have been published solely in the USA and are otherwise inaccessible to the rest of us. In a sense it is the American entertainment industry who are the pirates because they steal the creations of artists in all genres, not rewarding them sufficiently and not allowing global disribution of their work.

SOPA and PIPA are not the way to fight internet piracy. They are, it seems, the way to get a large proportion of the world very incensed indeed! Including me. I have signed various petitions, donated to more than one organisation, talked to anyone who would listen and followed the debates, official and unofficial, closely.

I am also concerned at the closing down of Megaupload and the implications of that, and the current attempt to extradite Richard Dwyer from the UK because of actions he took solely in the UK. More reading, petitioning etc.

I am not, at present, in favour of Black March. In its present form I think the idea could hit a number of independent producers/publishers/record companies who in fact supported the protests. Any attempt to make Black March more specific in its targets would, I think, make it unwieldy.

A further matter for concern is ACTA. This is a global treaty, on its way to being signed by about 39 countries. It purports to combat the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods and the copying of patented medicines (for use in the third world – go figure – Oxfam are protesting loudly). Because the treaty wording is broadly and loosely drafted the results will be open to abuse, whatever the current governments say about their intent. There will be the potential to enforce invasions of privacy on a massive scale ‘to prevent piracy’.

Look at this YouTube vid:

Then subscribe to this news feed:

And if you are in UK sign this petition:

I intend to follow matters assiduously and will be glad to find ways of protesting and publicising the issues. I have contacted campaigning groups, my MP and my MEPs.

I know that this matter is merely shelved in US and not dead at all elsewhere. We need to stay alert.

What do you think? And can you help to spread the word?

2 thoughts on “SOPA, PIPA… and ACTA

  1. There’s a great fallacy that the big media companies try to push, that every illegal download costs them money. The reality is that the vast amount of material that is downloaded would not otherwise have been purchased.

    We need new business models for the digital age.

    We are starting to see it in music. Free downloads get the artists’ names out there and they make their money from concerts.

    As we get further and further into e-books, I wonder what the new model will look like. When I self publish on line, I wonder how I will feel when my work is illegally copied and downloaded. I hope that I will be happy that people who would not otherwise have read my work will now read and enjoy it and word of mouth will generate some sales. I hope that I will be able to sell enough to live. I will not be happy if someone else is making money out of illegal downloads of my work. Like everything else, it’s about getting the balance right.

    • We certainly do need a new model.

      If my work is ‘pirated’… I think there’s a huge difference between someone emailing a copy to a friend – how else do you lend an e-book? – and someone creating and selling hundreds of copies for profit. The first is like the loan of a printed book and will hopefully be reflected in publicity and increased sales. The second is theft. I don’t think the publishing world has sorted out its thinking on this yet. Or maybe it has and is just greedy.

      I have started a petition on

      I know there are other petitions. I have signed them. I simply want to make sure we get as much publicity as possible.

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