Posted 12 years ago on Nov. 15, 2011, 12:43 p.m. EST by mserfas
from Ashland, PA
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
"PROTECT-IP" is a bill that would require search engines and DNS servers to censor results under court order, which would list sites accused of hosting pirated material. Demand Progress is one of the many groups doggedly opposing the bill (the ever-famous EFF - http://www.eff.org/ - is another). Please see http://act.demandprogress.org/sign/sopa_testimony/ for their present petition to stop opponents of the bill from being excluded from congressional hearings about it.
I understand that authors of copyrighted materials do indeed face a very serious economic problem that needs to be addressed, but trying to reinforce the copyright system isn't the answer. Imposing a small royalty on an expensive product works, but imposing it on information that can be copied for nothing doesn't. The only way that enforcement can work is if every transmission of information everywhere involves three parties - the two people talking and a censor to authorize and watch over their conversation.
In practice, singers protest that they have become "indentured servants" under 30-year contracts just to have access to the public; the middlemen take all the rewards. In practice, U.S. consumers pay Chinese filmmakers royalties on imported films while the Chinese largely obtain their movies as pirated versions (their government thoughtfully making whole genres illegal simply to improve their balance of trade). We can do better.
We need a new conversation for a working market mechanism to reward authors and artists. For example, we could implement one right now where everyone pays a proportional surtax added to their income tax, and has the choice to direct that to one or more independent funding organizations that support the arts. In this way, popular or critically acclaimed works can be supported in proportion to their merit, as determined by individual consumers - but there is no enforced scarcity. Everyone pays just what they do now - maybe less, if the government bureaucracy turns out to be more frugal than Hollywood producers, which given the price of cocaine is at least plausible. But everyone has the right to read and watch and listen to everything they want, and to make sequels and fanfic and other derivative works to their hearts' content.
Freedom or absolute surveillance and censorship - your choice.