Saturday, November 26, 2011


As you may have noticed, there's a new banner hanging out on the top of my blog. "Stop Censorship", where unfortunately, the link doesn't work, but it's to the American Censorship Now campaign.

According to the site, where "The US Congress is considering America's first system for censoring the Internet." and "Despite public outcry, the Internet Censorship bill could pass at any time. If it does, the Internet and free speech will never be the same"

What SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) means to you:

"To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes"

What Protect IP means to you:

"To prevent online threats to economic creativity and theft of intellectual
property, and for other purposes."
                                                        (taken from the American Censorship site's links)

In theory, according to AC site and other campaign articles, should the current bill pass in Legislation, these Acts will prohibit any and all means of file sharing on the Internet. Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, web browsers and other forms of means to download, any Tom, Dick, or Jane can be found guilty of piracy; by email or via websites. Regardless of whether or not the 3 people were in a bar one night during 80s karaoke and were caught on video singing Madonna's Like A Virgin and their friend Joe posted it on his Myspace. Now there's a lawsuit and a felony charge.

CNET has an article, How SOPA Would Affect You FAQ that states a reason behind the SOPA (act) is the prevention of rogue sites hitting the masses and letting the general public download or share anything they want.
    "The MPAA has a section of its Web site devoted to rogue Web sites. Jim Hood, the Democratic attorney general of Mississippi, and co-chair of a National Association of Attorneys General committee on the topic, recently likened rogue Web sites to child porn." (CNET)
It also states that

"The European Parliament adopted a resolution last week stressing "the need to protect the integrity of the global Internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names."

as well as

"Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, said in a message on Twitter last week that we "need to find a better solution than #SOPA."

I actually agree with what Rep. Pelosi stated. We do need a better solution because this act kills every venture an independent musician may try to make.

Take Nicholas Megalis and Knothead for example. These guys started following me on Twitter one day. Since accepting their requests and hearing their music, I can tell you that these independent musicians deserve any and all credit they can give. Both men push their songs online, where Megalis has a mini LP that can be downloaded for free, as well as a 10 dollar album that can now be purchased via Amazon for $8.99 (Don't ask me why... the difference.. perhaps a special via Ante Up Audio, where he originally recorded, vs. Amazon). He is working on a second album, but some tracks are put online. Knothead, on the other hand, put both his mixtape and full album online for free download. However, he is currently touring with Kottonmouth Kings, just to help get his name out. People like this, can really be affected by the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP because the places they trust to upload and distribute music can get shut down or blocked, leaving them rather hopeless. They need followers and fans to share the sound and to buy the records, tickets, or swag.

This being said, Avaaz has summed up a good way of describing SOPA:

"Under the new law, the US could force Internet providers to block any website on suspicion of violating copyright or trademark legislation, or even failing to sufficiently police their users' activities. And, because so much of the Internet's hosts and hardware are located in the US, their blacklist would clamp down on the free web for all of us."

This hurts everyone. You, me, your asshat neighbour. People who inadvertently think it's all gravy and a joke to want to put something somewhere online and have everyone reach it. Big Brother is watching us, for sure, and we need to stop it. Please help!!


edited to add:

I had posted a response on a forum I belong to. It was asking for people's opinion about the SOPA and what may happen. So I now am including my response...

I was just going to post something about this in the computers and general tech forum and didn't see a thread started; good thing I searched the site!

I was curious as to what Urbanites thought of it, as I know some of the indie musicians that I converse with on Twitter are worried about this bill passing because they use (the aformentioned Twitter as well as) Facebook, Soundcloud, and whatever other means they can, to get the music out. Especially the ones that don't have money for a PR team or enough grounds to get a proper label.

If this bill passes, no one will be able to do much of anything or risk jail time (according to numerous sites).

Another article I read, broke it down further, by stating that even the kids (or some adults who fancy karaoke night at the pub) that post their rendition of the newest pop song on Youtube can face legal action. Solely based on the fact that they posted a video of them singing copywritten material and recieved no permissions to do so (sing and post).

It's utter shite, to be honest. Especially if emails now are going to be censored because of links someone may or may not include, even attachments are going to be blocked. I've a friend who writes me an email response in MS Word, and then attaches that document to his email because he includes his own photography to share with me because we live several states away now. So he likes to have another set of eyes critique his latest adventures into the city; show me what he's found graffiti wise, or what new buildings are being constructed. If this Act passes, I won't be able to get that email.

It's definitely a scary thought to think of how well we, as a people, (generally speaking, please forgive that) have gone thru such (for lack of a better term) open door policies, where anything goes, now face more harsh rulings for sharing something we have a passion for. When the Napster thing originally happened, I was on the side of the Independant musicians - the side where using the Internet to share music is a good thing because it gets the word out about the artist. I still believe that, and it stands with directors / movies as well. I will admit, I've found myself a copy or two of an album, but that doesn't mean I don't have 300 CDs that I've not bought over the years (seriously, I have folders upon folders of music purchased from the likes of Strawberries, Best Buy, FYE, ecc). I support all means of sharing and sponsorship, whether that's buying the album (or in some cases vinyl) or going to a website and downloading the mixtape from a new artist.

True story - a New York singer/songwriter started following me on Twitter. I follow him back, and found his website. I downloaded his first mini LP and then recieved a link to purchase his first major album. I did so, and it was one of the best 10 dollars I've spent on a new artist. Since then, he's come out with several other mini LPs to be downloaded (for free) online, and is working on the followup from the first record. I tell him all the time how great his music is, and he appreciates the new followers and accolades.

So things like the SOPA (Act) will potentially kill artists like Nicholas Megalis, KNOTHEAD and any other person for feels like maybe the Internet is too good to be true.