Regulation of Internet Media Exchange Not Pirate Worthy

Steven Wetterholm

Mariana Aguirre, Staff Writer

Pirates of the Internet, unite! None shall take away our right to free exchange of the media!

It is time that we strike down the navy fleet of government legislation with the iron cannonballs of will and the sabre of passion. We must never relinquish our high seas of Google and Wikipedia, our verdant islands of blog sites and gaming, social or activism forums! Never!

In case, wee pirate, you weren’t aware that your freedom along with your bounty of treasure, rum and wenches are being threatened, know then that the approaching maelstrom is called SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA.

SOPA, which stands for Stop Online Piracy Act, was originally proposed to the House of Representatives by Lamar Smith on October 26, 2011, and PIPA, standing for Protect IP Act, was suggested in May earlier last year.

Both aim at the same target, which is to prevent copyright infringement.  This would be accomplished by appointing the Department of Justice the power to remove web sites suspected of hosting copyrighted materials from the Internet. Also, sidebar ads would disappear (arguably a good thing) because of limited company access to websites.

But according to “SOPA STRIKE,” a website dedicated to the downfall of the two bills, internet users, website hosts, and service providers rose up in protest on January 18th, staging what “SOPA STRIKE” calls the biggest online rally in history.

Wikipedia staged a black-out. Other sites censored their logos and captions, and numerous memes (icanhascheezburger.com petitioned “Save the LOLcats”) spawned in attack of SOPA and PIPA.
Congress voted on SOPA and PIPA on January 20, 2012. Both were defeated. Forbes magazine called it “A People’s Victory.”

Oh, but isn’t it heartening to know that the diverse humanoids peopling the Internet can unite and fight for what connects them? How resolute Internet users, from the casual to the hardcore, can be when their virtual lives are threatened with extermination!

But the war isn’t over. These bills were not the main enemy, young pirates. Nay, instead cower in fear from the leviathan ACTA.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is an international measure that has already been approved by 31 nations, including the United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Australia and numerous nations within the European Union. The bill criminalizes the users, not providers, of illegally obtained copyrighted material, and forces entire networks to be shut down should they contain any suspect media, says “Stop ACTA,” a nonprofit organization lobbying for the bill’s destruction. Critics argue that such a system would force internet providers to be on constant surveillance, invading privacy of internet users the world over lest they be shut down.

Dark jokes and comments pepper forums in discussion of ACTA, claiming that it could greatly threaten democratic freedom of speech, and indeed is reminiscent of communist censorship that we Americans so oppose. Said “whois#1” on a Yahoo.com discussion, “They want to put laws on nature.”

The scary thing is, ACTA is already signed by these 31 countries; however, it has yet to be ratified. Through “Stop ACTA,” you can also protest in the community.

Is the use of copyrighted material really all that bad? It’s hard to come across someone who hasn’t used copyrighted material, who hasn’t bit torrented a favorite movie or obtained a new album for free. In this Internet-dominated society, lofty, noble intentions of creating a completely copyrighted world are simply unrealistic.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the very proponents participated in some illicit internet activity. Perhaps they embrace ACTA only in feeble attempt at atonement for their incessant viewing of pictures and logos on the Internet daily. Perhaps they might strike a deal in which they are exempt from the iron fist of “copyright protection.” Their support of such a seemingly noble act would be hypocritical. And, as faithful pirates, we cannot stand for hypocrisy.