So there’s a bill floating around in Congress. It’s called the Stop Online Piracy Act. The idea is to protect the intellectual property rights of artists, studios and large media companies.
But beneath the covers lie some pretty interesting unintended consequences – or maybe they’re not unintended. Maybe there’s a killjoy who really wants to destroy YouTube and any other Internet-based social medium that thrives on sharing of photos, videos, audio clips and so forth.
Wikipedia describes some of the provisions (Because I’m too lazy to drill down deeper, let’s be honest): “The bill would make hosting unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 10 pieces of music or movies within six months.
“Proponents of the bill say it protects the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws especially against foreign websites. Opponents say that it infringes on First Amendment rights, is Internet censorship, will cripple the Internet, and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech.”
Once some observers realized what might happen, they started making noise. GoDaddy publicly supported the bill, which triggered a wicked backlash of customers dumping GoDaddy as their web host. GoDaddy quickly backpedaled, but enough former customers are angry enough that the PR damage has been done. And they’re trotting out Danica Patrick to save the day.
And the big social media companies are contemplating thoughts of uncorking a “nuclear option” – going dark simultaneously to demonstrate their displeasure with the bill. Of course, they risk annoying users left in the cyber-darkness unless they rally the troops to join in solidarity.
But now that a lot of voices are rising in opposition, the chances that this bill will pass look pretty slime.
When people pay attention to the crap that’s being done in palaces in the Middle East or corner offices on Wall Street or the hallowed halls of Capitol Hill, when we actually pay attention and decide we’ve seen enough of this crap and make some noise, real change can happen. Not always, and not always right away, but enough to give the knuckleheads in charge pause.
Maybe this time the voting public will remember come November.
Nah, who am I kidding?