After the recent round of Internet activism culminating in several major websites and many minor ones going partly or completely dark for the day, the sponsors of both the SOPA and PIPA bills have withdrawn them from consideration for the time being. (Found via BoingBoing.)
There’s a profound temptation to throw a Wizard of Oz-style celebration (“Ding dong…” etc.) and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. However, this legislation is much like the vampires in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series: an inconvenient shaft of sunlight can turn them to dust, but it just takes a single drop of blood to bring them back to life again as good as new.
On The Guardian, Dan Gillmor points out:
The key words above are "for the time being". Hollywood and its censor-the-internet allies are never going to stop pushing for what I’m convinced they really want: a way to bring technology under control. Although they claim otherwise, Sopa and Pipa would – among many other negative impacts – essentially require innovators in digital media to get permission from the copyright cartel before launching new products and services that might challenge, even tangentially, the interests of the Big Copyright industry.
And Marco Ament, creator of Instapaper, puts his finger on the thing that worries me: sooner or later, the Internet will grow tired of protesting, and Hollywood, with its infinite patience, will manage to slip its venomous legislation into effect.
Ament suggests that, since the MPAA so clearly seem to hate us, and spend the money we give them to try to force these laws into being, we should stop supporting them with our money.
Even if we don’t watch their movies in a theater or buy their plastic discs of hostility, we’re still supporting them. If we watch their movies on Netflix or other flat-rate streaming or rental services, the service effectively pays them on our behalf next time they negotiate the rights or buy another disc. And if we pirate their movies, we’re contributing to the statistics that help them convince Congress that these destructive laws are necessary.
Of course, the problem with this argument is that if enough people do stop consuming their media to make a different, Hollywood will just use that as support for the argument that “piracy” is costing them money.
Although this type of legislation is being pushed by Hollywood, it could profoundly affect all creative sites or sites that discuss them, including this one. And opposing it doesn’t mean we support piracy! But there need to be better-balanced solutions that will allow prosecution of genuine bad actors while not giving movie, music, or publishing conglomerates yet another bludgeon they can use to smack down anyone who says (or innovates) something they don’t like.