Many websites are “going dark” today in order to raise awareness of Congress’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). With any huge bill there is good stuff and bad and the same can be said of SOPA. But the road to [tyranny] is paved with good intentions. What really has people upset and is pitting Silicon Valley against Hollywood are provisions that allow big business to shut down websites that allegedly are linking to or promoting pirated material.
If a film studio believes their movie is being pirated they can have an internet company or a search engine block the site.
This is a dangerous idea.
What has made the internet so extraordinarily successful has been freedom and creativity. Internet growth didn’t stop with e-mail, it didn’t stop with retail sites, it didn’t stop with IM or facebook or blogs. Every year the internet presents new opportunities through freedom. Justin Bieber came from youtube, fridges now know what food you are out of and can order more on the internet to be delivered to your house. In the past year alone, elections have been won on the internet and governments have been overthrown through twitter. Baseline regulations are good and necessary to any successful enterprise. We have pornography regulation, theft regulation and even some piracy regulation. But we don’t need to hand the keys to the kingdom over to big business.
The problem presented is the same as it always is, liberty vs. the problem of the day. For conservatives, liberty should always win the day. Why risk ruining a good thing by giving government AND big business more power in our lives.
I am especially disappointed in a co-sponsor of the bill, Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6). He has been an outspoken tool of big business against the people of the United States and their freedom on the internet. In fairness to Goodlatte, he is 60 years old and probably has never had the time to become internet-savvy. But for the rest of us, it is a way of life and our voice in the world. Goodlatte needs to understand that this isn’t “something the kids are into.” This is a serious tool of speech in the twenty-first century. While this overreach may not effect him, it hurts the rest of us.
I write to you as a Republican voter in the Sixth District of Virginia. Bob Goodlatte is my Congressmen and we are all sincerely disappointed in him. He has been a reliably conservative voice over the years with the exception of social issues which he is a bit squishy on, but support may finally be mounting against him. Many of us have been looking to primary this guy for awhile as he could be more conservative considering how far right the district is. (This is the district where Jerry Falwell lived and started his Church and University). If Goodlatte continues on riding this sinking ship, we may just get the chance. Goodlatte isn’t simply a co-sponsor, he helped shape this bill as the chairman of the IP subcommittee.
Goodlatte is now facing a primary challenge from Karen Kwiatkowski, who is against the bill. Remember that name. This isn’t the only issue Goodlatte has been wrong on over the years.
If sponsors of this bill really want to protect intellectual property, the solution is simple. The free market is the answer. The music industry didn’t stop the (music pirating) bleeding in the late 1990′s because of an act of Congress. They did it through traditional lawsuits that the system is already equipped to handle and a little thing created by Steve Jobs called itunes. Itunes has been a bigger force in buying online music than anything else. Not only did itunes give consumers a legitimate legal alternative, but it made consumers want to do the right thing. If Hollywood wants to protect their stuff, they should work harder to encrypt their movies. They should make people want to visit the theater by pressing to lower snack prices. They should lower 3-D movie prices. Statistics show that during recessions people vacation less and go to the movies more. Make it a part of our lifestyle again.
If you offer a superior product than your competitors than you are going to be fine. Hollywood has already raised their prices to $15 for a two hour movie in order to cover the losses they feel because of privacy. I’d say we are paying enough. The American people can’t also be asked to trade liberty for Hollywood profits.
Bob Goodlatte may want to consider getting in line.