Thursday, January 19, 2012

#SOPA Free speech under threat.

I'm going to exercise my right to free speech while I still can. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but the western world has definitely taken a turn for the worse. There was some kind of move taken to either (a) allow terrorists through the gate in September 2001 or at the very least (b) exploit the event to bring fear and severely curb civil liberties after the fact.
I'm kind of sick of the whole Republican vs Democrat debate. Both Bush and Obama have done as much to reduce civil liberties as the other. Fear is killing America and the virus is infecting us all. One of the founding fathers of America, Benjamin Franklin, said "any society that gives up a little liberty for a little security, deserves neither and will lose both." Every move made over the last ten years has served to chain Americans.
2011 was a monumental year for protests around the world. It was called the year of the protester by Time magazine. (Yet even Time magazine was caught not showing pictures of Arab protests on their cover in America, when they did everywhere else in the world.) No one doubts the pivotal role the internet had in helping protesters succeed. Yet when the Occupy Wall Street movement started in the US, they have been censored far more than any of the Arab protesters were. Why?
How is it possible that such censorship can happen in America, the "land of the free"? Many of the media companies are run by older people who are conservative and do not understand how the internet works. But there is perhaps something more sinister going on. At a very base level fear is controlling political decisions, but perhaps at a more sinister level there is a conspiracy for absolute totalitarian power going on. The record companies and film companies are also run by old conservatives who do not understand what the internet is even about.
The US Congress is now debating a bill called Stop Online Piracy Act. The stated aim is to protect copyright for the entertainment industry, but it will effectively cripple free speech in so many domains, rendering the internet impotent.

This You Tube video explains it well (unless it gets censored some time soon):

There are two possibilities here:

1) The entertainment industry is tired and outdated, yet the media moguls (Rupert Murdoch especially) have too much sway with congress, and so their petty whinge is killing free speech.


2) The bill is actually a more sinister attempt to kill free speech, with copyright being used as a facade and a smoke screen.

As far as the entertainment industry is concerned, the tired people who run it should get with the times. Apple has done a great job of providing iTunes, an accessible way to buy music, movies and tv. TV and Movies are still way too expensive most of the time. Essentially the entertainment industry needs a new model.

What the entertainment industry has disregarded is the population boom in the world. The sheer population of the younger generation means that people's interests are far more diverse than they were 30 years ago. Personally I think that we should all create our own music and art and give it away for free. That is perhaps the direction things are taking anyway.

The internet has brought a revolution to the world. There are always counter revolutionaries or "luddites". It remains to be seen whether their attempt to censor the internet will be successful.

If I was American I would be doing all I could to protest this. As it is, I am an ineffectual Aussie, tucked away in Siberia. I hope my blog is powerful enough to make some people think.

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