Posted on January 17th, 2012
This isn’t a political statement either (Baha’is are banned from participating in partisan politics after all,) it’s a simple application of the categorical imperative. If you can ban one type of speech from the internet because it threatens the livelihood or comfort of one group that is otherwise fully capable of protecting themselves, there is no philosophical reason that shouldn’t be applicable in any similar instance, and that seems intrinsically broken. The lack of due process in these laws only makes that worse as it’d be up to the accused to prove their innocence rather than the accuser to prove the guilt of the accused. The possibility for abuse seems close to limitless, and the odd splits between foreign and national websites seems entirely ignorant of how websites are hosted in the modern world. Thus, regardless of any ideology beyond reason and functionality, these seem like objectively negative and ill-conceived laws.
I should mention I say all of this in spite of the fact that people pirate my music constantly (and when no money changes hands, I don’t care much because I doubt I really lost a sale in that instance,) including for-profit Russian pay download sites that sell my music without paying me royalties. I would benefit in that one instance, even as an independent artist, from SOPA/PIPA/OPEN passing. Justice would be served if that site was shut down, and/or they were ordered to turn over any proceeds from selling music without my permission.
Unfortunately, much of the rest of the internet would likely be so paranoid about linking to any content without explicit permission it’d grind to a halt. Getting my name out to people is difficult if the sites I post content to have to dramatically alter their operations to comply with these laws. Without a reliable way to promote myself across the internet, my ability to find my niche audience is dramatically injured.
Oh, and I know all the legislation acts in different ways, and there might even be enough exemptions that someone like me wouldn’t be affected in regards to my outward business. Alas, none of these laws can ever truly stop those who want to pirate media or counterfeit brand names, or rather, for them do so effectively might damage free speech in most instances. It’s a digital, democratized society, and we all have computers on our desk whose potential is effectively infinite in regards to creation and distribution, or at the very least, the only limit is the person behind the keyboard. It’s only going to be more intense as 3D printing gets cheaper and more precise. Want that that designer bracelet? Print it. Shoot, innovate on the existing design to make it more personal, cooler, better fitting and generally more useful. You can’t tell me that doesn’t sound radical yet exciting, and this is a world we are about to enter. Maybe there is even a market for selling branded designs for home recreation, but if there isn’t, that doesn’t mean the technology should be banned nor should it be ham-stringed by some kind of DRM-system that gets in the way of honest use.
To put it another way, I know the idea that I can sell music and perhaps one day even merchandise is a bit dated as we near an era of home replicators. However, I would never risk free expression on the off chance I make a buck off of it, and I certainly wouldn’t want such a thing to be law. Free expression is why I can write music, write blog posts, have interesting things to read online and so on.
Anyway, check in on Thursday for a decidedly fluffier and less weighty blog post.
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