What SOPA Says About Congress

November 17th, 2011 at 1:06 pm | 13 Comments |

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Although I did have a brief and not-so-glorious career with a big IT firm, I probably don’t qualify as an expert on the exact consequences of the new intellectual property bill–called either SOPA or PROTECT IP--that’s currently moving through Congress.

That said, I do think it’s important not so much for what it would do–many of the opponents are probably overheated in their claims about it–but for what it says about Congress.

In a time of record unemployment, economic stagnation, significant global challenges, and a hugely consequential election, SOPA/PROTECT IP seems like one of the few major measures with significant bipartisan support. Whatever one thinks of the bill (and, personally, I think it’s a bad idea), I don’t think that anyone can really argue that software piracy is among the top ten issues–or even top fifty–things that Congress ought to be worrying about. The fact that Congress is obsessed with this shows, quite simply, that it’s not working.

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • hisgirlfriday

    What it also says about bipartisanship is that one of the few areas of bipartisan agreement that exist in DC is a bipartisan desire to see Congress claim more powers for itself and grow federal government power at every turn.

    Just saw that Congress is trying to take away the rights of Illinois to prohibit concealed carry – the final state that does so.

    There are legitimate reasons to call for concealed carry or repeal our restrictive gun laws, but why can’t Republicans fight for it at the ballot box rather than through the Supreme Court or in Congress by developing an actually functional, credible Illinois Republican Party in this state to advocate for this viewpoint?

  • balconesfault

    The fact that Congress is obsessed with this shows, quite simply, that it’s not working.

    Well hell – at least one of the main GOP candidates for President, as well as probably a large part of the GOP constituency, would just send Congress home at this juncture anyway, to not return to Washington prior to 2013 except for an emergency session.

    So why take up this issue? Because a lot of very deep pockets want it taken up.

  • baw1064

    Congress is working very well at selling its services to the highest bidder.

    It will take unemployment seriously as soon as the unemployed people start spending lots of money on lobbyists. Which is kind of unlikely, for obvious reasons.

  • Graychin

    “The fact that Congress is obsessed with this shows, quite simply, that it’s not working.”

    I assume you are saying that Congress is not working? I must disagree. Congress’ rapt attention to SOPA proves that Congress is working exactly as intended – putting corporate interests at the top of the agenda.

    The other 99% of us can just get in line and wait.

    As for SOPA – this seems like the sort of Big Government intrusion that Republicans whine about all the time – unless the intrusion is profitable for their buddies. What is the libertarian position on file-sharing piracy on the internet?

  • Frumplestiltskin

    “I don’t think that anyone can really argue that software piracy is among the top ten issues–or even top fifty–things that Congress ought to be worrying about. The fact that Congress is obsessed with this shows, quite simply, that it’s not working.” This doesn’t necessarily follow, during WW2 the US government enacted many small bills at that time and no one can say that wasn’t working. I think the larger issue of Republicans obstructionism which means they will destroy the economy just to win next november is just a logical outgrowth of divided Government tea party style.

  • YuriPup

    Follow the money. There you will find bipartisanism.

  • dante

    It pretty much goes to show that RIAA/MPAA money bribes lawmakers on *both* sides of the aisles. The idea that the government is going to force Google to filter it’s web services is HORRIBLE. If that happens, what’s going to stop a company called “Louggle” from starting up in Switzerland and offering an English search engine that *doesn’t* filter? Is the US Government going to block all web traffic to that site just because it doesn’t comply with outrageous US laws? Or are they going to start blocking traffic to sites like The Pirate Bay because the site connects people who want to share with people who want to steal?

    The US Gov’t has already shut down sites that connect users to streaming sites here in the US. Channelsurfing.net was one of them, as it offered to connect users with sites (often justin.tv and the like) that were streaming sporting events. Since the channelsurfing site was located in Texas the NSA (seriously?) took over the domain even though what he was doing wasn’t necessarily illegal (Obama’s administration has produced a white paper stating streaming isn’t necessarily illegal under the DMCA since it technically doesn’t produce a copy). However, a plethora of sites has sprung up with .eu and .ru after the URL, and since they’re based outside of the US the NSA can’t touch them. So they’re looking at blocking IP address of the sites that are offering JUST THE SEARCHES.

    Ugh.

    The US Government apparently is still dumb enough to think that the internet is a system of tubes….

  • Southern Populist

    This is exactly what it appears to be — a bi-partisan agreement to advance corporate interests by passing a bill that will threaten free speech and the Internet over the will of the people.

    And our alleged progressive president who purports to represent the 99% has not threatened a veto to my knowledge.

    How much have viacom and the other media giants given to Democrats?

    It’s not just Republicans folks. Always follow the money.

  • SGCleveland

    This bill sounds like an absolutely unenforceable piece of Big Government garbage. Or at the least, an invitation for terrible service from various providers of internet services.

  • ASmith

    Its “bipartisan” in that the media companies had pockets deep enough to buy both sides. Anyone voting for SOPA is de facto corrupt.

    • Demosthenes

      +1

      The fundamental problem with media companies is that despite their vast wealth and continued ability to shape culture, the business model of e.g. the RIAA or the MPAA is utterly and completely unworkable today. The various “Protect Mickey Mouse” laws are sideshows, the real issue here is that there has been a fundamental technological shift where “information” as such is no longer bound to a particular medium. As former MPAA head Jack Valenti noted, there is no degradation of quality when you make a digital copy. The difficulty of producing a vinyl album allowed record and other media companies to charge whatever they wanted for one. Now, you can make your own audio CD for a penny, but why would you want to when anything you would actually use to listen to music plays .mp3 or .aac?

      Congressional support for traditional media companies amounts to Federal subsidies for the horse and buggy industry. I am all for protecting IP, but a) SOPA is not a defensible, or even a feasible, way to protect IP and b) with “official” unemployment still well above 9%, what possible justification is there for this bill?

    • Graychin

      If you oppose SOPA, you might consider doing what I just did – I left a message at whitehouse.gov urging the president to veto SOPA if it reaches his desk.

      I saw no point in contacting my congresscritters. All three are hopelessly corrupt – and SOPA supporters.

  • more5600

    But it seems our Corporatocracy is working just fine.