Today, a string of major websites are banding together to protest SOPA, a bill trying to work its way through Congress that is intended to stop online piracy. SOPA doesn’t sound so horrible, right? Online piracy is (fun but) bad! (No, I know I know, it’s awesome, but come on guys, it’s bad). The movie studios and media guys are super stoked on it because they’re tired of freeloaders burning and ripping off all their hard work. They’ve BEEN tired: In fact, here in the States, they already have a law to keep people from doing that (it’s called the DMCA), so now they want to fight the assholes doing it overseas. Vile crooks like Pirate Bay and bloodsucking bit torrent leeches that Americans like you (and, well, me (shh don’t tell anyone)) visit to download all our (I mean, YOUR) illegal movies and music. The bill states that to defeat international bootleggers, we must keep all of our search engines and Youtubes and websites from showing them any love.
There’s a slight problem with SOPA, however. The way it’s written – which is not very well – makes it so that the people creating original content (the studios, etc.) have far-reaching, unbridled, free reign to take out anyone who they have a “good faith belief” is stealing their stuff. That’s all they need. A good faith belief. And you’re dunzo! It’d be like if I had a “good faith belief” that you stole my Adam Bomb snap-back so I got to stab you in the ribcage and neck and upper-chest area (and then went home and realized it was in my closet the whole time).
I’m making it sound a lot simpler than it is, but the moral of the story is this. SOPA, although paved with good intentions, is the road to hell. The Internet, for all its benefits and burdens, is built upon freedom – free information, free thought, free expression – and by blocking content under something as vague as “good faith beliefs,” SOPA falls nothing short of censorship. What’s worse, SOPA makes it difficult, if not impossible, for small web-based companies and brands like ours to exist and survive. So much of The Hundreds’ reality is based on taking advantage of the web’s open frontier. Imagine if I posted a video with an unlicensed song playing in the background and got shut down for it. And then consider that I’ve already done this, whether knowingly or unknowingly, countless times in the past year. Imagine how I could’ve written this entire essay without “stealing” everything I learned off of other websites and blogs. Imagine. Imagine there’s no pizza.
The fact of the matter is that Ben and I should support SOPA. After all, that’s what we do – create original content. Just like the movie studios and record labels who want to hump SOPA and have like 10,000 of its babies. We agree – it totally sucks when people rip us off or bootleg our product, ideas, and intellectual property without our permission. But for one, we believe in the DMCA, which is already doing a pretty good job of blocking pirated content. For two, we think the SOPA should be re-worked, clarified, and not rushed with reckless abandon when even the White House is bummed on it. And for C, we kinda like how the Internet is. For the most part, this is the new world disorder and it’s time that the SOPAtriarchs got used to it, got creative, and got over it. How many times do we have to go over this? STOP TRYING TO FIGHT THE INTERNET.
This article originally appeared at The Hundreds.