Guest Article – Digging A Grave For Creativity
Dan says: I was contacted by writer Imogen Reed who asked if she could write an article for my site, so here it is…
Digging A Grave For Creativity
SOPA is an act that is built purely on a model of revenue. It is based on an out-of-date way of thinking that simply breaks down in a world that is as connected as ours is today.
It is not – and will not be – possible to stop online media sharing. If passed, this bill would not only be impossible to implement, but would create much confusion, severely limiting what we can and cannot do on the internet. The people behind this bill know this. So, as a result, they are trying to limit the geographical and physical areas in which sharing occurs through punitive legislation.
Destroying, not protecting
Due to the impossibility implanting this bill successfully, its introduction would be somewhat ironic. In trying to preserve an outdated and unworkable business model, this bill runs the risk of simply opening up markets for those members of the internet population that are outside the reach of US legislation; there is no doubt that they will merely create new sites and resources, which will destroy – not protect – the US economy. In times of such severe economic instability, tampering with a source of income as vast as the internet is certainly not a wise move to be making.
Limiting creativity and economic recovery
The effects of this Bill would be disastrous for all internet users, but perhaps most of all for people in the creative industries. Under the proposed SOPA legislation, the government would have the power to blacklist and completely remove websites if they are seen to infringe on intellectual property regulation, or have been found to be distributing copyrighted works. This would be extremely damaging for industries that rely on sharing images, video or audio content.
Creative, entrepreneurial people and industries are the ones that have the capability to drive and steer our economy out of recession. In such economic dire straits, the US government should be doing all it can to encourage creativity – not stifle it. It would appear that, if this Bill was to be approved, the government would be throwing away any chances of economic recovery – literally thousands of businesses would be shut down overnight. The SOPA bill will not only limit creativity, but will limit our changes of rebuilding a stable and healthy economy.
A huge flaw in the bill is that it is highly confusing – the definition of infringement is so blurred that it will be unclear to sites and their users whether they are in violation of the law. The bill states that violation includes sites that operate with the objective of promoting (or having promoted) their use to carry out acts that constitute a violation of copyright. There is no further definition available. Therefore, this will potentially affect any site that allows its users to post content – photos, text, audio or video. People that rely on the internet as a place to collate, share and distribute creative content will find that their every move becomes at risk of violation. Digital professionals that create works on sites like Flickr, Pinterest, Soundcloud, Tumblr – as well as those that rely on mass feedback – will find their jobs suddenly and severely limited. As a result, SOPA has the potential to ruin businesses, careers, industries and creative expression.
You only have to look at prohibition to know that people always find ways to get what they want. Sharing and use of creative resources is no different. The passing of this Bill would create criminals out of normal, hard working people. And more criminals require more resources and more regulation. However, perhaps the worst (and most frightening) prospect in all this is that SOPA may make some technologies – which are key to freedom of speech – illegal. An example of this would be the proxy servers used during the Arab Spring to cover tracks. While creating criminals from the average Joe on the street, SOPA would send a parcel of opportunities to real hardened criminals, whose actions would go unnoticed. SOPA is dangerous. It will allow a wealth of information – which we currently have access to – to be hidden from our knowledge. It will create a platform for organisations and powers to hide behind, as they have more freedom to choose what the public can and can’t see.
The bill is ill-thought-out, destructive and uncreative – there is no doubt it will cause more harm than good.