Mind Equals Blown

Mind Equals Blown

A Brave New World: What is PIPA/SOPA and How to Stop It

“These are unpleasant facts; I know it. But then most historical facts are unpleasant.”

Remember reading the sci-fi novel by Aldous Huxley, Brave New World? It was a slap to the face about what the government could be capable of doing. No longer is that far-stretched. Recently you may have read on Facebook or heard about the Congressional bill, “Stop Online Piracy Act” (or the Senate’s corresponding Protect IP Act). Comparing the bill’s power to Brave New World isn’t cliché when it’s the truth.

Shockingly, the names of these bills have nothing to do with protecting IP’s (which makes it sadly obvious they don’t know what IP’s are). Here is the non- legalized version of what the bill does:

  • The US Department of Justice can obtain court orders against any Web site accused of facilitating or enabling copyright infringement.
  • Actions could include barring online advertising networks or  payment companies from doing business with the infringed Web site
  • Internet service providers must block access to such sites
  • Unauthorized streaming of copyright content is a felony

Breaking this down, this means that the US government can require an ad network like Google or a pay processor like PayPal to stop doing business with sites in question of infringement. The key word above was facilitate.

For example, a guy still rocking a swoop haircut uploads his shoddy cover of a Brand New song. Technically, this is copyright infringement because he doesn’t own it; he and the band know this but usually both parties don’t care. This is already covered by the law (duh). If a band asks YouTube to take it down, it can be done. Now, under SOPA/PIPA not only is the guy charged with a serious penalty, but so is YouTube.

Now YouTube is hosting and facilitating copyrighted content. Not only can the government bar search engines from displaying links to the sites, but they can actually block access to the site.

Simply put, China does this.

To put a cherry on top, this is a felony – a higher punishment than most drug, disorderly conduct, or reckless driving cases. Streaming illegal content in the law’s eyes is on the same platform as murder.

There are immediate effects in the music community as well. A point brought up on Gumshoe Radio, hosted by Bayside’s Anthony Raneri and Nick Ghanbarian, is that the Internet is the Wild West. Yes, it is – that’s the beauty. But bands are already protected by a simple moral law: don’t steal. Most are in agreement that you shouldn’t steal music because then bands can’t put food into their stomachs (try making another record or touring). We don’t need another extra law, let alone one this stringent.

Quickly, this becomes a First Amendment problem. The Act contradicts parallel laws existing in the journalism and blog world. It is court-ruled that an online newspaper organization or a general forum is not responsible for the words posted by in comments (obviously illegal threats aren’t tolerated and many sites police their own). Most people also agree that there is speech they don’t like (such as the Westboro jerks or the band Attila), but they have the right to say whatever they want.

And so do I. Unfortunately the government does just believe the Internet “is a series of tubes.” Let’s tell them it’s not.

Here is a petition that takes 10 seconds to fill out that says you oppose the bill.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) plans to filibuster the bill by reading the names of the legislation’s opponents. More than 50,000 Americans already pledged to have their name read by him – you can too here.

A letter from the Senator’s office today reads, “It is my hope that – with your help – my colleagues in Congress will realize that PIPA/SOPA are the wrong way to protect intellectual property because the price they exact on the Internet is too high.”

Author: Sammi Chichester View Staff Page for Sammi Chichester
I’m a music journalist and print journalism major at Hofstra University. Raised on classical and country, I wound up a metalhead that loves the banjos as much as death metal growls. At MindEqualsBlown I serve as a staff writer focusing on editorials and album reviews. I’m also a nationally published author both in print and online for Revolver Magazine. Radio is another passion of mine and I produce, engineer and deejay a metal show in the New York metro area. Recently I moved to the executive position as Program Director of Music there as well. Some anecdotes: when I drink coffee I can tell you where in the world the beans came from, I love Ayn Rand novels and I once lived in Russia for two months. My famous last words will be: “Let’s see what happens.”
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  • Great read.

    • Great read. This will do to the internet what the patriot act did to our civil rights.

      Fillibuster away. Protest begins now for me. Off the grid I go.

      1.18.2012 – PLEASE stay off the Internet. Don’t make financial transaction. Don’t use Twitter or Facebook. Just shut your computer off for a day.

      PLEASE STOP THIS INSANITY, WASHINGTON DC. Streaming some stupid song is not the same as taking a knife and using it to take a human life. Your corporate shilling is simply transparent now. STOP IT or we’ll see a real revolution in this country.

      George & Liz

      • this will make the united states into a communist country. Or at least the start of what can be seen that has been there from the start.

  • Good stuff.

  • ” But bands are already protected by a simple moral law: don’t steal.”
    You can’t be that naive… For every 1 CD that is purchased DOZENS are downloaded illegally. I wish I had the exact figure, but it is astounding nonetheless. Everyone is stealing music. The people that benefit from this are sites like megaupload and various blog sites that charge for advertisement. It’s a complete exploitation of the artists and the craft they spend thousands upon thousands of dollars themselves to create. Instead of purchasing the album and supporting the artist in that way, kids have been downloading, and this new generation has been bred to a sort of entitlement to the music. The same old “I support the band by buying a shirt and going to shows” argument, while it is much appreciated, and you’re definitely helping, it isn’t enough to justify stealing. Your idea of a “moral law” is inapplicable to this day and age. There is no moral standard, kid’s will take advantage of what is made available to them. If this bill will make sites take action when someone is using it to for illegal purposes, then I don’t see a problem with that. Perhaps people will buy a CD or two.

    • and I suppose you think its ok for Tina Turner to be worth $56Million having NEVER wrote a song and NEVER played any instrument!

      It’s the amount that’s obscene!

  • I see your point Harry. You’re right: tons of people download records. Some bands even encourage it.

    It is my view that government intervention on the world’s greatest technological achievement is not the answer to change people’s behavior. That path has never worked and it never will.

    Artists have to become innovative to combat this problem. Every day I see amazing ideas that help the music industry. To me this law is senseless. It provides no other protection to the artist that they don’t already receive. Records on Megaupload or songs on YouTube can be removed now. By blocking access to sites, we’re talking about censorship and major changes to the Internet as we know it (there is absolutely no way Google could stay on top of all of this).

    Though we may disagree, I thank you for reading and commenting.

  • Some bands might encourage downloading of their own records, but that is their personal property to do with as they please.
    The way I see it, Government intervention is usually the only way a law is able to be enforced. If laws protecting rights of citizens aren’t working, then there should be action taken to adjust the laws and procedures to efficiently eradicate websites that operate through illegal means. The government is 100% responsible for every living citizen in America (refer to the constitution) and has an obligation to protect those who are on the receiving end of wrong-doing.
    Artists, more so now than ever, have to do extreme things to afford to provide music to your ears. Check out the recent rise in kickstarer.com fund raising for instance, and more specifically an option A Lot Like Birds offered at the $50 level when they were raising funds so they could tour (the way bands make money, or so I hear); Guitarist Michael Franzino offered to eat something disgusting or be harmed in a humorous, potentially non-life threatening way. Let me ask you this, do you think a respectable person should have to put themselves through something like that? Though, it is completely innovative, it also has nothing to do with music and the art that their band creates…
    The protection bands currently have is nonexistent. The idea of the bill is to hold these websites liable for the content offered on their sites. Let me ask you another question to give you some perspective: Let’s say you spend hours, days, weeks writing the most sophisticated piece of journalistic mastery you could possible muster, something you have never been more proud of, and then someone else hosts it on their site. That isn’t so bad, right? (free press is good press?) Well, this site also has a substantially high monetary gain from advertisements. In other words, they are making money off of your work. Is that fair? No, it is most definitely not fair. This site would be in violation of copyright laws and action should be taken against them to stop it. Shutting down the sites means these sites will have to adjust it’s content to fit within the working realm of the law. The shutting down of these sites has nothing to do with censorship. This isn’t a first amendment case, this is a case about piracy, and how congress has planned to stop it through affirmative action.
    I’ve spent the past hour or so trying to find a non-biased opinion on the matter, but ever site I’ve scoped out has some journalism major spouting off about how his/her rights are at stake because they can’t see the side of the argument through the eyes of the people it is protecting. This bill isn’t about YOU*. It is about the artists it intends to protect.

    *not a malicious statement intended to hurt your feelings, just trying to make a point.

  • I have a pocket Constitution- I’m a political nerd. It’s obvious we have different views about the government. We could spend all day arguing about that but I’d rather talk about music.
    Concerning the Franzino matter, nobody asked him to do that to himself. That’s a personal choice.
    Being in a band isn’t easy- there’s rarely any glamor associated with it except the love of your fans. I know bands that have had to take out personal loans to finish tours- it happens. When I was referring to innovative ideas I was thinking of album packaging, special releases, and promotions.
    There already are copyright, piracy, and anti-theft laws in place. It’s a matter of whether or not legal action is taken by a party. I’m all for protecting artists, I just don’t think PIPA/SOPA is the way to do it. As a sidebar: I don’t get paid to write- at all. I do it because I love it.
    Sorry journalism majors bother people- we hold the First Amendment very close to our hearts. I would also like to point out that this article is listed under editorials because I made an opinion.
    I get your frustration and your arguments. I’m not oblivious to the other side. I just don’t agree and will be standing by my words.

  • I used you as an example because I knew you would say you write for free because you love it. That is plain to see, just like it is plain to see that artists play music because they love it themselves. But if love could get them a place to crash, some good food, gasoline, bands like Thursday and Thrice who just recently announced their hiatuses would likely be more apt to continue their careers as full time musicians. I read in an altpress article by Geoff Rickly how little money he makes, and how he has to struggle just to get the bills paid. Unfortunately for most people, loans, and financial aid aren’t in the same abundance you find for students such as yourself. So you can continue writing for free solely based on the fact that you love it, but one day you’re going to start wondering why love isn’t cutting it. Now, these artists on the other hand, no matter how much they love to play music, are put in a situation by the fans they so vigorously work for to provide cheap ($10 for a CD is cheap) entertainment, but still that seems too much to ask. The entitlement-generation we have now is turning a once lucrative business into a complete “wild west” where it’s a take what you can carry, and apologize for nothing sort of mentality.
    To me, the most “unpleasant” fact here is the complete lack of justice for musicians, labels, managements groups, booking agents, etc. who are forced to search for “innovative” ways to not get stolen from.
    Are you familiar with how much it costs to take legal action from a normal person’s standpoint? If a band can’t afford to feed themselves, how are they going to afford lawyer fees? How are they going to be able to take justice in to their own hands if they haven’t the means to do so? A law, such as this SOPA/PIPA will make it so the artist won’t have to regulate the internet on its own, but instead puts the law in the hands of the one entity that can do something about it (hint: it stars with a G and ends with overnment).
    The first amendment is one of the ideals this country is founded on, but it’s not something that is at stake here. Your rights as a journalist are not in jeopardy. It’s that kind of selfish attitude that has been warping the way people think and act; sympathy and empathy are traits of the past, and I’ve noticed the internet is already morphing it’s users in to jaded, cynical, pompous, entitled, spoiled brats, who think they are owed whatever they want because they are American Citizens and they deserve to have the best life according to the high standards people tell them they should have.
    When I clicked the “Editorial” button, I entered the page understanding I was going to read other people’s opinions, so no need to clarify that. I was just hoping to read an opinion from the musicians perspective since this is, after all, a music site, and not that of a young journalist (what did Cat Stevens say? “You’re still young, that’s your only fault.” Something like that…). You might be able to identify my frustration, but you don’t get it. It’s like trying to understand why an African American person would get offended by hearing the N-word… You just don’t get it. My goal isn’t to get you to side with me, pride is hard to overcome, but instead I want your readers to see a vantage point that isn’t necessarily obvious to them.
    Not to beat a dead horse, but I’m just really curious as to what it is you personally stand to lose if this bill is passed…

    • The readers aren’t idiots, they can see the other side of the matter. It just so happens we don’t agree with it. Disagreement is not synonymous with naivete.

      Since when does it only matter what we “personally stand to lose”? Do you not care about the rights of others, or what nameless faceless people have to lose? There are already laws in effect that make piracy and the like illegal. It is up to those artists and copyright owners as to whether or not they want to prosecute. And what do I “personally stand to lose” if this is passed? Well, you know what, maybe I just WANT to watch a 5 year old girl sing Nicki Minaj on Youtube without her getting charged with a felony. How rude of me.

  • “The legislation could punish Web firms if copyrighted movies, songs or software appear on their sites. But it would address long-standing concerns from Hollywood studios, record labels and publishing houses, which lose $135 billion in revenues each year from piracy and counterfeiting, according to Chamber estimates.” (from Washington Post)

    So you’re telling me your viewing pleasure is worth more than the loss of monetary gain to an entire industry? Or Several industries, rather.
    Disagreement is not synonymous with naivete, that we can agree on, but youth is definitely synonymous with naivete. You can’t help that you don’t understand the side this Bill is designed to protect. Like I said, the only argument I’ve read against this bill is a selfish one. If you really think that 5 year old girl singing a Nicki Minaj cover is so precious to our culture, so important that the jobs of millions of Americans should be thrown aside so she can have he 15 minutes of fame, then I feel sorry for you. But more so, I feel sorry for the millions of Americans piracy affects. You obviously just don’t get it.
    Do you even realize how much money $135 billion dollars is? Piracy as accounted for more and more losses in profit for these industries the American people so desperately need; think about it, where would you be without music/movies/entertainment?
    If you just do some research you’ll see who the real victims here are not the youtube breakout-stars like the Justin Beebers and Nick Minaj cover artists, it’s the people who try to make a living in the entertainment business, yet have their product stolen right from under them. If you did some research, you would see this bill is a great step in the right direction for protecting the rights of millions of American Citizens who pose a lot to lose if something isn’t done to help them. If you think the current laws are good enough, your youth is showing yet again. If the laws were indeed good enough, they would be doing something.
    I think it’s not out of the question to say that piracy has a direct influence in the current state of the economy. Let me show this figure again: $135 billion dollars a year. $135,000,000,000 a year. That is a lot of money that would be circulating the economy this exact moment had it not been for the pirates out there taking advantage of a very loosely monitored systems.

    The bill clearly states it is only against unauthorized use of intellectual property. So the girl or boy who wants to do covers only has to make sure they are covering authorized songs.
    Why should the artist be made to do all the work, why should they have to prowl the internet, preventing people from illegally selling their product? If the government wants to step in and help, I don’t see why that is a problem.
    Since the only thing you personally stand to lose is the enjoyment of watching a kid butcher a song she is too young to understand the overly sexual themes of when millions of American will lose enough money to fund NASA for an entire century if piracy continues the way it has, then you are as unsympathetic as the pirates who steal the music and sell it for their own personal gain.

    As for the laws that make piracy illegal, where are they? What are they doing to prevent these rogue sites overseas that have been profiting from the hard work of millions of Americans every year? Well the fact of the matter is the laws can not do a damn thing. Overseas rogue sites are untouchable according to current laws. If you did some research you’d see that these are the true targets of the bill. Not the 5 year old cover artists out there. You say it’s up to the artists whether or not they want to prosecute, but obviously you don’t know what it takes to go to court. How are the legal fees going to be paid if the artists have no money to begin with? You’re sort of missing the big picture here. The artists are the ones who stand to lose their livelihood, their paychecks, their jobs, their homes, and ultimately their lives if they can’t afford to pay the bills or put food on their tables.
    So you personally have nothing to lose if this bill passes, but if it doesn’t you get what? Youtube cover songs? Is that enough to justify the theft of intellectual property from America’s greatest industries? I personally don’t think so, but what do I know, I’m only a 32 year-old musician, jobless, penniless, forced to watch my product stolen out from under me while sites go unpunished for harboring piracy, and the selfish youth get all the free media they can possibly fit in their itunes catalog so they can say they are music lovers. Well, if you really loved the music, you wouldn’t mind spending a buck or two on it so the people who love to make it for you can afford to make it for you.

    • You’re entitled to your opinion, and so are the staff of MEB.

      Personally, I believe people are being repelled by the proposed changes simply because it is too sweeping.

      It’s too general a law and may be successful at curbing piracy, but at what cost?

    • Verbose troll is still a troll.

      Justin Bieber opposes this bill (he said its sponsors should be “locked up.”)

      Piracy is not copyright infringement, and copyright infringement is not theft (cue up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4). We’ve iterated this point to death. If you want to continue to sling terms like “theft” and “steal,” go find a brick wall somewhere.

      Sure, the labels will lose money in a system that allows sharing as opposed to the MAFIAA’s dream system in which they have perfect control of the distribution channels like it had in the past. That does not mean we should roll over and give them the power of Internet censorship! It means that businesses relying on antiquated business models should adapt or perish. Period.

      Asking where someone would be without music/movies/entertainment is not what you mean. You mean “where would you be without Hollywood/RIAA/MPAA/PRS/GEMA?” Well, we’d be in a better place, with a freer Internet, and an altogether freer society. Lobbyists would have to find some other reason to try to censor the Internet. You do know that people made art in all media before the advent of copyright, yes? Artists don’t need copyright clearance house leeches to entice them to do their art. Stop insulting artists.

      It’s also well known that the MAFIAA vastly exaggerates losses due to piracy (http://www.cracked.com/funny-4003-the-pirate-bay/), and some research suggests strongly that sharing actually can lead to increased sales (http://torrentfreak.com/internet-piracy-boosts-anime-sales-study-concludes-110203/), which makes complete sense if you strip away all the “theft”/”intellectual property” propaganda. Repeat it with me now: Sharing can lead to increased sales.

      Let me make this one last point crystal clear: Not one bit of the above paragraph that I wrote or much of what you have written is relevant at all, because we should *not* concern ourselves with saving an industry. To quote Rick Falkvinge: “I don’t care about your profits, and it enrages me that you think I should.” (http://torrentfreak.com/i-dont-care-about-your-profits-and-it-enrages-me-that-you-think-i-should-110911/) It’s not my responsibility to keep your job secure. That responsibility belongs to you and your employer. It’s not the government’s responsibility to make sure that you operate in a functional business model. That responsibility belongs to you. It’s not society’s responsibility to throttle technology and hinder expression to put food on your plate. The responsibility lies with you to keep up and adapt, and that’s what every other business has had to do except for the MAFIAA. Instead of changing and adapting, they try to legislate away innovation and competition, yes, even competition that challenges the current copyright monopoly regime.

      The real danger to new artists isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity. Get out there and share your music, and if only for your own sake, don’t punish your fans for doing the same. If you have to perform live and sell tickets merchandise to make it, then do so. In fact, it may even increase your rep.

      I’m a student, an artist, and a software developer, and I find ways to keep myself fed without censoring the Internet or petitioning to make my fans into felons. I don’t know or care if you will believe me or not, but I actually spend a great deal of my disposable income on both analog and digital media, including movies, music, and images, but I do not buy one single file encumbered with any kind of DRM, including CSS and AACS. I greatly support many favorite artists of mine who don’t punish me with DRM for buying through official channels.

      Say no to SOPA.

      Commence calling me a cheapskate/pirate/filesharer/lowlife in 3…2…1…

  • “(SOPA) may be successful at curbing piracy, but at what cost?”


  • Harry, you’re such a bleeding heart for the artists, it would be in the best interests of them to lose the “record industry” who’ve been ripping them off for…forever!

  • Pingback: Dear SOPA, I Don’t Want To Pirate The Internet. I Just Want To Be Creative And Do Hoodrat Stuff With My Friends. | CaptainPainway.com

  • Copy write protection act and Patents are a kind of paganism. Think a musian is saying the song is his work and protected, so if this is the case he do not eat anything. The food that grown in the field with a hard work of some ones effort is only consumable by the farmer, not for the Muscian.

  • Dear harry

    I am from serbia and i have completly diferent problem. I cant buy anything. For example i have bloody wp7 and i really want to buy navigation software and i cant. So what should i do?

    I paid real money for my phone, and since there is no marketplace for serbia i cant buy anything.

    That is pipa in use. Microsoft is protecting ip.

    There is very simple solutin for this kind of problem. Charge internet providers, they will charge users and distribute the cache to downloaded property owners. Like with radio statinons (land ones). They pay to musician organisations, songs are counted and money is distributed. It os simple.

    i would acctually love to see this happen, it will produce ?uch bigger loss that $120mill and it will bite them for their bottoms.

    Another thing, are you aware how many jobs were lost due to technological progres and it didnt stop.


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