SOPA & PIPA legislation & you

SimonKJones
SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast
First up, this is my personal opinion, not the official stance of FXhome or the HitFilm team. Just to get that out of the way. :)

So, tomorrow a lot of websites are deliberately going offline in protest at some particularly poorly designed legislation that is being considered in the USA which would have rather serious consequences for the internet. The internet globally, that is, not just in the USA.
If you're a filmmaker, or a gamer, or a musician, or a blogger, or if you use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube or any other social media: this legislation affects you.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) hit a roadblock recently, thankfully, when the White House and Obama stated they would not support it. However, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) is still going full steam ahead and is every bit as dangerous.
Here's a video which explains why this is so serious far more succinctly than I can:

This means that if somebody posted a link to copyrighted material on the HitFilm forums, the owner of that material could have HitFilm.com shut down. Just like that. We're not talking about going through the courts: PIPA is designed to fast-track this kind of thing. For a company like us, where we do much of our business online, that's not something that would do us much good.
Sure, we could moderate every single post that is made, check it for infringing content. Except we don't have the resources to do that. But, more importantly, we also don't want to do that - the HitFilm.com is just that: a community. And you don't help to grow a community by censoring it.
Big entertainment corporations are scared that their business model is changing. Rather than embrace new opportunities, they want to clamp down, regain control and wind the clock back to the 20th century. Governments, including western governments, are terrified of the internet, having watched its power unleashed in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria.
There are so many reasons to oppose SOPA and PIPA, and so many reasons to defend the internet. For me, though, it comes down to one core truth: The internet is the home of the independent creator. Whether you use Soundcloud to get your music out there, YouTube to publish your videos to the entire world, a blog to flex your journalistic muscles, Kickstarter to find crowd funding for a niche project or Flickr to exhibit your photographs, it is the internet that enables amateur and indie artists to find an audience beyond their immediate friends and family.
Personally I am anti-piracy. As a company, FXhome is of course anti-piracy. But SOPA and PIPA are not the solution.
So if you encounter websites tomorrow that have gone dark, know why: it's a vision of a potential future that none of us want.
If you're a US citizen, please consider making a stand: http://www.fightforthefuture.org/pipa
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Comments

  • KahvehRobinett
    KahvehRobinett Posts: 442 Just Starting Out*
    Not only would this destroy some very important aspects of the Hitfilm community but it would also destroy a lot of other form based online communities. The internet is a melting pot that doesn't need a cook and it needs to stay that way.
    Kahveh
  • Thanx for posting this. SOPA and PIPA have been hot topics on various art sites for some time now
  • I had not heard anything about this!!
  • Aculag
    Aculag Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    edited January 2012
    This is bad stuff, and I really hope it doesn't pass. The White House says they don't agree with the bills, but they said the same thing about the NDAA, so who knows?
  • DanielGWood
    DanielGWood Posts: 1,016 Just Starting Out
    Unfortunately it doesn't even look like SOPA will be shelved for long - the lead sponsor of the bill has dismissed the Internet blackout by Wikipedia and others as a publicity stunt, and announced his intention to begin the next phase of SOPA plans in... February.
    More detail on "The Hill" blog
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast
    edited January 2012
    That might turn out to be a bit like how dictators in Arab states initially dismissed the uprisings as small groups of rebels. Whether they like it or not, the internet is coming for them.
    I'd link to a Wikipedia article on King Canute, but, well, you know. :)
  • jawajohnny
    jawajohnny Posts: 143
    edited January 2012
    I don't see this passing, at all. If (and it's a big if, in my opinion) it even gets through the House and Senate, I assume President Obama would veto it, seeing as he's voiced his opposition to it.
    Love how the MPAA is making itself an even less credible organization than it already is, by supporting this bill. Sure, pirating movies is becoming a huge issue that's affecting box-office returns... but this bill clearly isn't the answer.
    If you catch a guy fishing illegally in a pond... you'd logically ban him from fishing there. You wouldn't ban the pond itself! :)
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast

    I don't see this passing, at all.
    That's what we thought here in the UK about the Digital Economy Bill. It passed.
    [quote]If (and it's a big if, in my opinion) it even gets through the House and Senate, I assume President Obama would veto it, seeing as he's voiced his opposition to it.[/quote]
    Assume nothing - don't forget he 'opposed' the new act that enables American citizens to be jailed indefinitely yet still signed it. Similarly, lots of UK politicians 'opposed' the Digital Economy Bill but still signed it through parliament, basically because they were told to.
    This makes for sobering reading: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-the-united-states-still-the-land-of-the-free/2012/01/04/gIQAvcD1wP_story.html
    [quote]Love how the MPAA is making itself an even less credible organization than it already is, by supporting this bill. Sure, pirating movies is becoming a huge issue that's affecting box-office returns... but this bill clearly isn't the answer.[/quote]
    Yes, exactly. This will go one of two ways: either the MPAA will win and the promise of the free internet will be largely destroyed, or their continuing ridiculous behaviour and proposals will rapidly hasten their end.
    As Leia once said, the more they tighten their grip, the more star systems slip through their fingers. Or something.
    [quote]If you catch a guy fishing illegally in a pond... you'd logically ban him from fishing there. You wouldn't ban the pond itself! :)
    [/quote]
    Good analogy!
  • jawajohnny
    jawajohnny Posts: 143
    edited January 2012
    But wasn't there virtually no "debate" over the Digital Economy Bill? I seem to remember you said something over at FXhome about how there were like... ten guys in Parliament debating it... and then come voting time... everyone rushed in and voted for it? It seems to me like there's a lot more opposition from members of Congress on this one. Here in the US, our current Congress is known for not agreeing on anything. They won't pass a bill just because "they were told to". They're far more likely to not pass anything at all, haha.
    Also... Obama did oppose a version of the act that allows American citizens to be jailed indefinitely... but he ended up passing a revised version of the bill that addressed some of his initial concerns. Basically what I'm saying... is he'd veto SOPA in it's present form... and if Congress still wants to pass it... they'd have to rewrite it so it's more to Obama's (and by extension, our liking.
    I don't want to delve too far into anyone's political believes... but I'll just say that I trust Obama to do the right thing on this one... simply because he always does. :P
  • Aculag
    Aculag Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    edited January 2012

    Also... Obama did oppose a version of the act that allows American citizens to be jailed indefinitely... but he ended up passing a revised version of the bill that addressed some of his initial concerns. Basically what I'm saying... is he'd veto SOPA in it's present form... and if Congress still wants to pass it... they'd have to rewrite it so it's more to Obama's (and by extension, our liking.
    This is only partially true, actually. He claimed to oppose the original NDAA, so there were changes made in Congress, but only superficially. The parts about indefinite detention weren't removed, they just added a line stating that it doesn't infringe on any current laws. In his statement on signing the bill, he admitted that it gives the government authority to indefinitely imprison civilians and US citizens. He says that "his administration" won't use it that way, but that they will "interpret" it accordingly. It's typical presidential doublespeak.
    Either way, Obama has a history of saying one thing and doing another, so I'm not going to be surprised at all if this passes. Enraged, but not surprised. Fingers crossed.
  • [quote]I'd link to a Wikipedia article on King Canute, but, well, you know. [/quote]
    Wikipedia still works, you just need refresh and click cancel refresh straight after (works for me anyway)
  • MatthiasClaflin
    MatthiasClaflin Posts: 674 Just Starting Out
    This is ridiculous. The USA has completely missed out on what our founding fathers intended. I say we all start our own country.
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast
  • Andrew
    Andrew Posts: 378 Enthusiast
    edited January 2012
    Maybe it's because I'm an optimist for both the people, government, and entertainment industry (at least it's future)- but I wouldn't at all say that western governments are terrified of the Internet. Perhaps the UK is, but by and large I'd say that the US embraces it- and it's a large and trailblazing part of our economy, society, and future. Our current president, the leader of my country, was elected because of it.
    Corporations in the west? Sure, terrified. Enterprising fat cats? Definitely. But those interests, at least I'd like to believe, aren't more prevalent than that of the average citizen- who embraces the Internet- which I think our government represents.
    Likewise, although I think we absolutely need to stop SOPA and PIPA because of the implications it has and divisive future it could create, and as much as I think Hollywood needs to adapt to new business models, I still find much of piracy deplorable, and recognize and support the sentiment of stopping it.
    Not just for the sake of big business profit margins, which can be negative or bloated, but to keep the culture of freely, non-consequential taking it from spreading. Just as I would be (and have been) upset to see FXhome products up on P2P sites.
    I don't like that, and while I think a catch-all 'crackdown' is the wrong idea, I have to say I'm in support of finding a way to lessen piracy without sweeping across innocent, socially-progressing mediums of information- and I sincerely hope people don't forget about its intent in this regard.
  • KahvehRobinett
    KahvehRobinett Posts: 442 Just Starting Out*
    Well said Andrew, internet piracy is a very big deal and companies can loose thousands of dollars to it. I remember a long time ago when I was looking for vision lab on the internet and stumbled upon a free download for it. I didn't download it but it still disturbed me. Internet piracy is something that needs to stop, just not by this method. ;)
  • jawajohnny
    jawajohnny Posts: 143
    edited January 2012
    [quote name ="Aculag"]
    Either way, Obama has a history of saying one thing and doing another, so I'm not going to be surprised at all if this passes. Enraged, but not surprised. Fingers crossed. [/quote]
    Uh... no he hasn't. I can't think of one instance, actually. He's been fairly consistent in doing exactly what he says he will... unless he meets resistance from the other party and is prevented from doing so. :)
    As far as detaining U.S. citizens indefinitely, I think we're comparing apples and oranges. I think it's perfectly fine to detain U.S. citizens if they're working for Al Qaeda. At that point, they'd be treasonous war criminals, not U.S. citizens. The law will be applied with common sense. This same "common sense" rule could be applied to SOPA... except there's a lot more gray area when it comes to the internet. With "treason"... you're either betraying your country, or you're not. In many cases, it would be far more difficult to determine whether websites are purposely displaying pirated content. The way this bill is worded... I don't worry so much about the government abusing its power to shut down websites... I worry more that they'd accidentally shut down a legitimate site.
    Piracy is a huge issue today, that I believe is hurting the film/television/music industries... so I agree something has to be done about it. However, giving a government known for its incompetence sweeping power like this is definitely not the answer. :P
  • doppelganger
    doppelganger Posts: 20
    edited January 2012

    Uh... no he hasn't. I can't think of one instance, actually.
    Haha this made me laugh, thanks!

    Piracy doesn't hurt large companies as much as they'd like to imagine it does. Especially when it comes to companies that sell extremely high price software like Boujou. If a person pirates Boujou, chances are they were never going to buy it in the first place thus they lose no money. It's still stealing don't get me wrong and when more affordable programs are pirated then it can become a problem for the company.
    I have pirated certain programs before (no fxhome products haha) to be able to achieve certain things in film and once I have the money to buy those programs I certainly will but at the moment no such luck.
  • Aculag
    Aculag Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    edited January 2012
    He's been fairly consistent in doing exactly what he says he will... unless he meets resistance from the other party and is prevented from doing so. :)
    So, practically every time. He claimed he would close Guantanamo bay, end Bush's tax cuts, end raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, close CIA black sites, end torture as an investigation tactic, veto the NDAA, etc. etc. None of those happened. He's done a lot of good stuff, don't get me wrong, but he hasn't been consistent in doing what he says he will. He wants to cater to both sides on everything, and most of the time that means giving in to someone.
    [quote name='"Andrew"]Corporations in the west? Sure' date=' terrified. Enterprising fat cats? Definitely. But those interests, at least I'd like to believe, aren't more prevalent than that of the average citizen- who embraces the Internet- which I think our government represents.[/quote']
    Maybe not more prevalent, but more persuasive and more powerful.
  • [quote name="Aculag"]So, practically every time. He claimed he would close Guantanamo bay, end Bush's tax cuts, end raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, close CIA black sites, end torture as an investigation tactic, veto the NDAA, etc. etc. None of those happened. He's done a lot of good stuff, don't get me wrong, but he hasn't been consistent in doing what he says he will. He wants to cater to both sides on everything, and most of the time that means giving in to someone.[/quote]
    Well yes... that's the unfortunate part of his presidency... that he meets Republican resistance on practically every issue. The way you worded it though, sounded as if he'd made promises and then just "changed his mind" in office. The fact is, he's tried to do all the things he's promised. He's tried pretty damn hard to end the Bush tax-cuts but has met total Republican opposition (their refusal to even negotiate the issue is what held up the debt-ceiling debate this summer and almost caused the U.S. to default), despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans agree with him. He's also still standing by his commitment to close Guantanamo... it's just not happening as fast as he'd hoped it would. And as far as I can tell, he has ended the use of torture.
    EDIT: Ha! Take a look at this: Hollywood moguls have ceased donations to President Obama's campaign, because he's against SOPA. Here's hoping he holds his stance and doesn't cave into them.
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast
    edited January 2012
    As far as detaining U.S. citizens indefinitely, I think we're comparing apples and oranges. I think it's perfectly fine to detain U.S. citizens if they're working for Al Qaeda. At that point, they'd be treasonous war criminals, not U.S. citizens.
    Except no war has been declared. The Iraq war was against Saddam Hussein's regime, the Afghanistan war was against the Taliban regime. Al Qaeda is a separate issue. You can't declare war on terrorism or a group, because there's no way for that kind of ideological war to ever end. It's great for the military industrial complex as it keeps them all in business, and it's great for the security forces as it enables them to justify creeping out the police state.
    More to the point, this is indefinite detention without trial. If you're falsely accused of being a terrorist, you're in trouble.
    [quote]The law will be applied with common sense.[/quote]
    That's a hugely dangerous thing to assume. :) Sure, maybe Obama's government will behave responsibly. But what about the next government? The one after that? Implementing dangerous laws on the assumption that governments will behave responsibly is a big mistake - you're just laying the foundations for a later government to misbehave.
    Don't forget that many dictators have come to power through entirely legal means. People give them power, and only realise when it's too late.
    Just look at Emperor Palpatine.
    [quote]With "treason"... you're either betraying your country, or you're not.[/quote]
    It's never that simple. What if your government is doing some extremely bad things and you're a whistleblower? By some definitions that would be treason, when by others you're actually being a patriot. What about the rebels in Egypt, Libya and Syria? By their governments definitions, they are all treasonous, but by our definitions they're heroic rebels.
    [quote]Piracy is a huge issue today, that I believe is hurting the film/television/music industries... so I agree something has to be done about it.[/quote]
    There's actually very little evidence that piracy is actively harming the entertainment and software industries. And I say that as somebody that works for a software developer.
    A lot of people say that piracy=stealing, but it's actually not that simple. The definition of stealing is to take something away from somebody without their permission. Piracy doesn't do that: it's unauthorised duplication. I'm not saying that makes it OK, I'm just saying that it's a more complex issue than the entertainment industries would like to portray. Reducing it to the simplistic piracy=stealing doesn't help anybody.
    An interesting (if rather fantastical) moral analogy I read recently went as follows: digital piracy is about unauthorised copying. The theory is that if a creator makes something and it is then reproduced infinitely by people, how can that creator make a living from it? How can big entertainment companies survive? But what if that same technology - the ability to freely duplicate without any loss of quality - extended to physical items? What if you could duplicate a Ferrari, without actually taking the Ferrari away from its original owner? What about food? If you could duplicate food it would instantly solve world hunger, yet it would put farmers and food companies out of business overnight. But is that example OK when the others aren't?
    As I say, it's a slightly silly example, but it does serve to highlight that it's a complex and thorny issue. The concept of identical, zero-loss duplication is still so new we don't really understand how to incorporate it into our societies.
    So far, there have not been any reliable studies that I'm aware of that properly demonstrate that piracy actively harms businesses. It's still a very open question, though. SOPA and PIPA aren't so much about combating piracy as they are about giving the entertainment industry the keys to the internet, so they can mould it in their own image.
  • Andrew
    Andrew Posts: 378 Enthusiast
    An interesting (if rather fantastical) moral analogy I read recently went as follows: digital piracy is about unauthorised copying. The theory is that if a creator makes something and it is then reproduced infinitely by people, how can that creator make a living from it? How can big entertainment companies survive? But what if that same technology - the ability to freely duplicate without any loss of quality - extended to physical items? What if you could duplicate a Ferrari, without actually taking the Ferrari away from its original owner? What about food? If you could duplicate food it would instantly solve world hunger, yet it would put farmers and food companies out of business overnight. But is that example OK when the others aren't?
    The only major academic argument I've ever had in college was regarding this exact premise, and it's so frustratingly more-complex than the 'finite versus infinite world' scenario presumes- that it almost seems trivial to combat/reason against.
    What I would say is that value isn't in certain terms or quantities- and that piracy, by-effect, devalue the work that someone does- be it an individual or a corporation. If I'm not purchasing something valued at, say, $15- then I may not be literally taking that money out of that person's hand- but I am robbing them of that opportunity/experiential cost. And, even more, I'm ruining the precedent of expectation their work represents.
    If someone goes to work on building software expecting to reap a profit of $100- and because of this expectation they dedicate X hours of effort and invest Y amount of money in the endeavor- it's reasonable and just to say someone who detracts from that $100 value is harming the quality of life and endeavors of the individual working.
    Obviously this happens in business anyway, but shouldn't we strive to combat it? It's that all part of creating unity and a sound, peaceful economy/society?
    I dunno. I'm not one to cry out 'free market!' blindly- but much/most of piracy I find to be wrong in that it takes without necessity or trade- which to me defeats the concept of mutual and beneficial interaction, regardless of the commerce side of it all- and that just isn't good for anyone.
    Hard to fully articulate, though, more than that really. Because like I said- probably the biggest and most ongoing argument I find myself in.
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast
    edited January 2012
    Yes, I know exactly where you're coming from. I also get what you mean about it being difficult to articulate - I think part of that difficulty is precisely because this is the first time it's been possible to create perfect duplicates of anything in the entire history of the human species. We're still formulating the framework for discussing this kinda stuff, let alone having the actual discussion.
    I would question your concept of 'value', though. Piracy possibly devalues the monetary value of a piece of work (though this has yet to be properly demonstrated other than anecdotally, as far as I know). But there are other ways of valuing things - although the way our societies are set up, it is always the monetary value that is considered the most important. Which, I suspect, is also part of why certain corporations are so worried about the internet: it has the potential to undermine a lot more than just record sales.
  • StormyKnight
    StormyKnight Posts: 2,618 Ambassador
    Simon- "As Leia once said, the more they tighten their grip, the more star systems slip through their fingers. Or something." :)) :)) :)) There must be an analogy for everything in life in those first three movies.
    Thank you for posting this topic, Simon. I have encouraged locals in my area, through the news paper's website, to join in the fight against this legislation. I'll be sending out an email to family and friends as well. If this bill passes I may just cancel my internet service in protest and remove any content I've posted that could be misconstrued as being pirated. I'll just have to hit Starbucks once a month to update my HitFilm program instead of doing it from the comfort of my own home....darn government. :((
    My representative in congress, Paul Ryan, is against this bill but I will still let him know that I support his decision to vote no.
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast
    Yes, even if you know your representative is already against it, it's always worth letting them know that they have support of the voters. That helps them resist the lure of the lobbyists. :)
  • doppelganger
    doppelganger Posts: 20
    edited January 2012
    http://dailycaller.com/2012/01/18/rand-paul-promises-to-filibuster-pipa/
    Rand Paul is planning on filibustering pipa/sopa so yay for that
  • StormyKnight
    StormyKnight Posts: 2,618 Ambassador
    Simon- "That's a hugely dangerous thing to assume. Sure, maybe Obama's government will behave responsibly. But what about the next government? The one after that? Implementing dangerous laws on the assumption that governments will behave responsibly is a big mistake - you're just laying the foundations for a later government to misbehave.
    Don't forget that many dictators have come to power through entirely legal means. People give them power, and only realise when it's too late.
    Just look at Emperor Palpatine." Three thumbs up!!!
    You are exactly right, Simon. I've been trying to get people to understand for years that if you don't envision the possibilities and stay one step ahead, tyranny can sneak up on you like a jawa in a canyon. lol- OK- I'm not as good at the analogies as you. If you ever stop making vids you should run for public office and use your knowledge and understanding for the good of the world. ;)

    doppelganger- Thanks for the link and info!
  • jawajohnny
    jawajohnny Posts: 143
    edited January 2012
    Today, the feds shut down Megaupload.com... the world's largest file-sharing site, alleging it's designed to harbor pirated content.
    So... why do we need SOPA? :P
  • Aculag
    Aculag Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    Wow, dick move from the government. And a totally pointless one as well. All this means is that the next file sharing service in line is going to get a whole lot of new business really soon.
    This whole war against piracy is just as useful as the war on terror or the war on drugs. Nothing they do can ever truly end these issues, and things like this are only going to piss people off. Apparently Anonymous have already attacked several government websites in response to this. Silly.
  • S&M Filmsmiths Inc.
    edited January 2012

    This whole war against piracy is just as useful as the war on terror or the war on drugs.
    So we should just let people do whatever the hell they want and not even try to target these issues??? :dry:
  • Aculag
    Aculag Posts: 708 Just Starting Out
    That's not the only other option, you know.