SOPA protest day explanation

Those of you who where following climagic on Jan 18th (SOPA protest day) where probably wondering what I was trying to accomplish with posts like these:

It was a dark day for climagic. "That would be against the spirit of things." someone told me. It was indeed, but while most where trying to fight SOPA, my goal was to remind people of how we got here. We brought SOPA upon ourselves by repeatedly violating copyright at ever increasing levels over the past 35+ years of personal computing. I'm just as guilty. When I was a kid with a Commodore I did my share of copying games. In the 90s I copied software, mp3s and later some movies that were all copyrighted. I actually was one of the first people to receive a cease and desist letter from the RIAA in 1998 for hosting mp3s on a website I controlled. I've also done things like used copyrighted images on the web for use on websites or in art, etc. I think we all have done this to some degree. We do it because we think that we can get away with it forever without consequences. We've grown up with digital mediums being easy to copy and what one generation doesn't fix the next becomes used to. We've gone from knowing it is wrong to thinking nothing of the action. The high number of retweets of some of the above posts proved that.

Children from the 1990s and 2000s now grow up thinking that this is the way its supposed to be. That everything is so easily available that you shouldn't have any respect for copyright. We've now become so used to violating copyright law that we don't really think of it as stealing. I've been in several arguments with people over this. They were trying to justify to themselves that copyright infringement is not theft. The reason they do that is because they cannot admit that they are wrong. They have become so used to devaluing information that its lost all value. "I wasn't going to buy that game anyways" turns into "I don't buy any games". Most people don't want to think of themselves as bad people. So they find ways to justify it and put the blame elsewhere. "Corporations are greedy evil fuckers". Sure some of them are, but there are a lot of small companies that don't have the money to defend themselves and go out of business due to rampant piracy. You never see that part.

I thought that by posting tips that showed the thrill of circumventing protections in order to get stuff you "were not supposed to get" that you would see that it was our own actions that brought about the DCMA, SOPA, PIPA and if we continue, the next even stricter piece of legislation in 5 years. I'm against SOPA just as much as the next person, because it would indeed threaten the Internet, but I also understand that we actually brought it upon ourselves.

We can't go on violating people's rights to protect their works and expect that nothing will happen. Something has happened, something is happening and more will happen if we don't stop. The way to stop it is for us to stop ourselves. Stop ourselves from giving into the easy way of obtaining content. You don't have to buy anything if you don't want to, that's your choice. You can live a happy life of downloading Creative Commons content and Open Source Software. But don't use that as an excuse to download stuff for free that is not under such licenses. We have to remind ourselves that copyright is a real valid agreement in society and that we have to either honor it, or decide to dismantle it. But if we choose to dismantle it, we don't do so by violating it.

What I worry about more than just SOPA and copyright is that we're creating a society where people are comfortable with theft. I don't think any of us deserve to live in a society where people are comfortable with theft.


Created: 2012-01-20

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