Saturday, December 17, 2011

SOPA Opera

What with the 3-ring circus surrounding the GOP presidential-nomination sweepstakes dominating the news media this past week, there was comparatively little ink or airtime left to deal with SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, a colorful tag for the long-simmering clash of media giants for hegemony over what you and I may be permitted to watch, upload, download, copy, reference, forward, like, send, or steal, from the internet.  

Politico has a good score-sheet article as to who the players – and what the issues – are, but it boils down to the usual suspects: the networks, the MPAA, BMI, Sony, etc., vs. Google, ebay, Yahoo, Facebook, et al, over gatekeeping; in this case the right to close down “rogue” sites for real or alleged copyright violation.
The stakes are huge, as indicated by the millions in lobbying money that the contenders’ lobbyists are lavishing on Congress.

Of course, as we all know from recent history, today’s rogue site is tomorrow’s ISP and next week’s IPO, and once we start closing down the rogues (another colorful tag), is it just a matter of time and whim before they come for the rest of us? There’s already plenty of copyright-protection law on the books and further restrictions in the free flow of information are not what I believe the Constitution had in mind when, in Art. I, Sec. 8, it promised protection from exploitation to “Authors and inventors.”

Hence, this corner opts for the opponents of the bill as being the white (if not totally unsullied) hats in this particular shootout and takes the position that in this case, freedom to publish trumps the right to censor.

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