I know what you're thinking, but its not the Somali Pirates they are interested in. No, the Disney franchise isn't being threatened either. Today the biggest and most dangerous center of piracy is none other than the internet. This week not just one but two competing bills are making their way through congress to sharply increase the powers of the US Government to combat these dangerous pirates. The first bill the PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 is a proposed law with the stated goal of giving the US government and copyright holders additional tools to curb access to "rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods", especially those registered outside the U.S.
The second bill The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who requests the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 10 pieces of music or movies within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.
Originally both bills had large lists of corporate, and government supporters but in the past week, largely because of the actions of pro-internet advocacy groups the list of supporters has been waning. In an effort to clarify the positive points of the bills, and in an effort to preserve the liberty of all by having these bills passed we present this interview with Dr. Sven Stevenson of the University of Phoenix.
J: Dr. Stevenson, could you begin by explaining the benefits that this new legislation has for our national security.
S: One of this most important benefits of this new legislation is that it allows the US government to find and eliminate the online operations of any terrorist, deviant, or fringe organizations that are a threat to America. The internet has given all kinds of deviants, and extremists the ability to organize, and that has to stop. This is America, either conform or get the hell out. With these bills authorities just need to claim a potential copyright infringement before shutting down any websites in question. This sophisticated system is already used in Russia and China to suppress dissent, and we need to use it here.
J: I can see why this would be beneficial for national security, but what about freedom of information, and freedom of speech, would these still be protected?
S: Johnathon I think the problem here isn't the bills in question, it's the idea of this so-called 'freedom of information' and 'freedom of speech.' I think the best way to illustrate is through an example: Imagine that I proved to you that with absolute certainty, I knew the world would end tomorrow. Now suppose that you buy into this freedom of information business, you tell everyone that you can, and the word is spread. The result is utter pandemonium, people rioting in the streets, looting, fucking etc. Clearly this illustrates that information should be strictly and carefully controlled by the government with no exceptions.
As for your freedom of speech, suppose you use that to cause a panic. You tell people that the world is ending when in fact it isn't, pandemonium breaks out anyways, and we could have a full-blown national crisis on our hands. No, both information and speech must be carefully controlled if we are to remain a free society.
J: I'm sure some of our readers are confused at this point, these bills are targeted at copy-written information how does this apply to these other issues?
S: It applies to all websites because, whether there is any copy-write violation on a website or not, the government only needs to allege that there is one to take action against any site in question. So there may be no copy-write violations on a website but that doesn't mean it can't be shut down.
J: lets talk about the economic issues here, what does this mean as a bottom line for the economy?
S: One of the biggest issues right now is our economic recovery, and eliminating all of these sources of online piracy will substantially increase profits for the Movie and Music industries. After all why would anyone spend money to buy music, or a movie when you can get it for free? Why would one pay to see a movie in a movie theater when you can easily download a low quality copy that you can watch on your substantially smaller computer screen for free. It just doesn't make sense.
Our preliminary numbers taking into account all illegal downloads, views of YouTube material and the like, we have determined that our entertainment industry in America will see their profits increase thousands of times over once this legislation passes. Additionally, once this legislation passes we expect unemployment to fall sharply and incarceration rates to skyrocket, especially among the young.
J: Do you think that these economic numbers might be somewhat skewed because of declining household incomes, rising inequality, and the downfall of the American middle class? The average person only has so much money to spend, don't you think that if the content was no longer available for free, that the impact would be minimal to the entertainment industry since most households already spend well beyond their means? In other words there is no new money here, if more money is spent on the entertainment industry then less will be spent elsewhere in the economy, where is the befit here?
S: No, we've done the math we took the total number of downloads/ views and multiplied that by the amount of profit the industry would make if that content were paid for instead, and the numbers don't lie. Don't try to confuse the public with that kind of socialist voodoo. This is exactly why this legislation needs to pass so we can root out misinformation like this before it infects the minds of Americans.
J: I have to ask, what do you see in store for the 720 News Network if this legislation passes?
S: 720 News is an organization with the utmost integrity, devoted to delving to the murkiest depths of our twisted and corrupt society, to return holding nothing but the naked truth, bare for all to see. So any impact would be minimal.