January 18, 2012

Stop S.O.P.A - Stop P.I.P.A - An outsider's perspective


When it comes to internet piracy, I try to stay out of it. All of it.

I tend to get very heated when discussing it with people, so I just don't do it as that's not the focus of my blog and I don't see the point of arguing with fanatics on either end. But S.O.P.A (Stop Online Piracy Act) and P.I.P.A (Protect the IP Act) worry me.

As you may know, I'm a blogger outside the US. A blogger in a country where English is not the mother language and where publishing is very nearly dead unless you're a crazy politician bent on world domination who decides to write a book, or a scandal prone actor... then, publishing is still alive for you. Otherwise if you're a fiction lover like me, you suffer. I suffered.

By the time I was 18, I was becoming quite bitter with the state of fiction in my country. I craved the written world and I had to make do with classics - that I love and still re-read but believe me when I tell you there are only so many times you can read Pride and Prejudice without going a little insane, and I don't mean read it in your life time, I mean read it in a year because that's the last book that has caught your interest in over two years since everything else is crazy politicians and scandalous actors.

Internet changed that, and it wasn't just online shopping either. It was the options, the learning what else was out there and, back in the day, the possibility to buy ebooks (sometimes straight from the publisher) without much trouble, before geographic restrictions started to drive me nuts and some sites refused to take your credit card if you didn't live in the US.*

It was, literally, the word at my fingertips.

A world that might well vanish if legislation like S.O.P.A or P.I.P.A. get passed because then people in the US - government and corporations - would have the power to close down the sites that I read, to simply block the IP address so I can't access anything. My access, the wonderful access that allowed me to make friends a world over and to share my thoughts and discover new things, would be gone.

Further more, S.O.P.A for example, is written to take control over any domain ending in ".com", ".net." and ".org", as well as I.P addresses generated by the American Registry of Internet Numbers, even though these could belong to to Canada or a bunch of other countries in the Caribbean. It would force sites that aren't in the US to conform to US law. And, because it's the US Government, they would very likely try to impose their laws on others countries with whom they hold commercial agreements - as we all know, this has happened before**.

Because I don't live in the U.S. I have little say over this - though I wouhd suffer the consequences severely - but if you do live in the US... look it up, get educated and do something.



* To be fair, with kindle and stuff, we are starting to get the same access to ebooks as we did before - outside the US - though it does come at a higher price.

** It's currently happening in Spain (link is in Spanish)

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