I pay for my music.
I know… it’s a relic of the past. Nobody pays for music anymore and, at least according to some of my friends who aren’t producing and selling music to pay the bills, nobody should pay for music. They’ve told me that “charging for music is the old model, and the artists need to find a new model where they get paid but we don’t pay them.” I’m not sure what that means, but OK.
I’ve had plenty of heated debates with buddies and strangers about the values of those who choose to not illegally download and share media. I don’t do it because I’m on some trip to be righteous and holy. If I had the ability, I’d send the RIAA and MPAA lawyers to the unemployment line tomorrow. It’s not about the law, either. While I do attempt to keep myself out of jail, pirating music isn’t exactly a risky proposition. The odds of someone busting down the door and confiscating my computer are pretty slim.
So why don’t I do it? Because I balance my demand for new music with my budget for purchasing it, then I reward the artists whose material I want by spending my hard-earned income on a copy of said material. Do they get their fair cut? No, but as I said… I’m not in support of the RIAA. I’m in support of the artist, and my part of the bargain is buying the material. By copying it, I’d be doing even less to support them than I am now, and until that changes, I will stay legit.
Tomorrow, websites across the country will black out in support of SOPA. The concept is to demonstrate the potential effects of an internet that becomes censored by an overzealous entertainment industry. SOPA aims to stop piracy the same way an F5 tornado aims to rearrange the throw pillows on your couch. Wikipedia, Reddit, and even Google are getting in on the effort. This is massive online demonstration of a caliber we have never seen in the United States and it has the bill creators and the industry lawyers issuing nasty press releases, clearly demonstrating their fear of the truth being revealed.
Do I believe that piracy is an issue? Yes, I do. I believe that it’s important, serious, rampant, damaging to the artists and needs to be toned down. I support stiff penalties for sharing, common sense smaller penalties for downloading, and protections put in place to help make piracy more difficult. This puts me at odds with many out there and I understand and respect the differences of opinion.
That said, I oppose SOPA because it takes a legitimate problem and attempts to correct it by placing nukes on every corner and giving the big red button to the bastard stepchild of Kim Jong il and the crazy cat lady from the Simpsons.
(By the way… mentioning that copyrighted character in my blog could put me at risk of having my entire site shut down without recourse or trial under SOPA. Now you’re beginning to get the picture.)
Regardless of any difference of opinion on piracy in general, it is clear that SOPA, PIPA, and the more recent OPEN are all threats to the structure and openness of the internet. It is important we keep the government (and indeed, the lawyers for the music industry) from manipulating our democratized network of free speech and open information. This is why I will be joining the major sites above and thousands of smaller sites around the country and the world in blacking out my site on January 18th, 2012.
It is up to us to keep our government in check. Remember: They work for us, not the other way around.
(Updated: Added a missing “not” in an early paragraph that made me sound silly.)