Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reel Facts & Opinions: Concerning SOPA

The internet, tech industry, and the movie industry have been nuts over the past few weeks concerning SOPA, the proposed anti-piracy bill. It’s a bit of a mess, so let Reel Speak spell out the basics while shoveling out some opinion…

FACT: SOPA is an acronym for Stop Online Piracy Act; a proposed bill designed to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content. SOPA’s main targets are overseas sites which host illegal downloads, and are out of the reach of U.S. movie studios. Similar to the Napster issue of ten years ago, content creators have been battling against such sites and services for years, and have been losing consistently to those overseas sites. SOPA’s goal is to cut off the shipping lanes the pirates sail on; by requiring U.S. search engines, advertising networks and other providers to withhold their services. That means sites like Google wouldn’t show flagged sites in their search results, and services like PayPal couldn’t transmit funds to them. SOPA, as it is written now, has very broad language that promotes censorship and opens the door to punishing innocent sites which may unknowingly have a link to pirated content.

OPINION: Let’s get two things cleared up right away: First, the internet has always been like the Wild West; unregulated, unwatched, and free for the taking. While the Old West was a ton of fun, the rest of the world can and will eventually catch up.

Second…The movie industry, like any other business, is out to make a profit. While it’s easy to shake your fist at the big-nuts studios and their greed, remember that they are out to sell a product; no different than the Hot Dog Guy on the corner. If the Hot Dog Guy doesn’t sell any wieners, he’s not getting paid, and if the studios don’t sell any theatre tickets or DVD’s, they’re not getting paid. Illegal downloading is no different than swiping the hot dog off the cart and walking away without paying. And NO... illegal downloading is not “sharing”; you can “share” a hot dog by cutting it half. You can’t do that with a movie.

The effects of illegal downloading have been hitting the studios hard for years. Box office numbers have been decreasing as people go for their laptops over the big screen. When the studios see their profits go down, they are likely to veer away from future projects deemed as “iffy”. These days, “iffy” meaning original projects with no guarantee of success. That is why studios fall back to their safe haven of remakes and adaptations. Many of them take it a step further and add a gimmick like (goddamn) 3D. If you’ve been illegally downloading movies, you can pat yourself on the back for ALICE IN WONDERLAND 3D getting made.

The movies need dollars to survive, and that is why the major studios are supporting SOPA. Piracy is a major problem, but the broad language of SOPA messes with too many websites and censors too many searches. Innocent websites and blogs could be crucified and shot for being the messenger. We need a SOPA, but not a big one that annihilates everything. You don’t need a nuclear bomb to kill one rat.

What say you?

1 comment:

  1. I'm pretty much going to agree with you on the above. Don't hit the little guy, just not fair.


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