I'm not participating in the great SOPA internet strike today because I believe that artists should be paid for their work. And while this bill may be flawed (and as far as I can tell is already dead anyway), I'm certainly not going to strike over it because I think that the other side of this issue needs to be heard.
People sure do loves them some free internet. It is the great "democratizer". Anybody with a guitar can just open their laptop, record themselves performing, slap it up on YouTube, and get themselves a couple hundred hits. The Next Bob Dylan is able to DYI it like never before, but he's also very unlikely to ever get paid for his work. Even young Bob would eventually like to move out of his parents basement and get some health insurance.
But don't listen to me. I'll let one of the anti-SOPA protesters make my point for me, as seen in this video:
"This is about one thing: money. The free internet we enjoy today gives independent artists a voice and consumers a choice. Our free internet is costing big movie studios, record labels, and other traditional media companies lots of money. This bill is about using the government to shut down the competition for bloggers, podcasters, web TV, and other independent content creators."
-Rich Calvert, Blogworld
Well, Rich and I are in agreement as far as his first sentence. It is definitely all about money. See, Rich's site provides you with the ability to create all kinds of free content for him to make money off of. He definitely doesn't want to see that dry up. The free internet may give independent artists a voice...but no paycheck or benefits.
And it's definitely costing those evil media companies lots and lots of money which is totally awesome, right? Due to loss of profits from piracy, there might come a day when they'll be forced to only deal with sure bets...like brainless action movies and sequels upon sequels of known commodities, and cookie-cutter pop music that will appeal to the masses, and books by reality TV stars. I know! Crazy, right?
The great free internet is clearly already having a deleterious effect on the arts. When the Next Bob Dylan realizes that he can't get noticed amongst the eleventy billion others, and that no record company will take a chance on a new cutting edge artist, and that he can never hope to make a living from his music, he'll eventually go back to school for that accounting degree. How many Faulkners and Hemingways are we missing out on because they don't have a built-in audience or "platform" like Snooki and The Real Housewives?
But when Google cries "CENSORSHIP", we are all supposed to follow like lemmings. I'm amazed at how many people, who don't know a proxy server from a DNS server, or a deep-packet inspection from an anal probe, are jumping on this bandwagon. I know, I know...because free internet is so. fucking. great.
No worries, internet addicts. Your dirtbag husband will still be able to download his porn, angry losers will still be able to spew their vitriol anonymously on your blog, and you'll still be able to watch that adorable video of the five year olds singing "Super Bass". Because God knows that shit is fucking imperative.
And tomorrow all of your favorite bloggers will be back in the saddle writing their posts. For free.
UPDATE: I wrote this down in the comments, but had to put it into the body of the post.
I just came across this "open letter from artists against SOPA" The letter was written by someone I've never heard of and signed by a sad little list of artists including Aziz Ansari (love his books and CD's) and like 10 other nobodies. OK, I'll give you Trent Reznor, but where's everybody else?
In my opinion, this speaks volumes. I assume a lot of you internet junkies are music fans. Why do you suppose that your favorite artist didn't sign this?