Understanding SOPA & PIPA (from New Left Media)

Okay, so you've heard about SOPA and PIPA, right? Yesterday, Wikipedia was blacked out for 24 hours in protest of the proposed legislation. Twitter and Facebook were abuzz with talks of SOPA. (In the pagan community, I've even seen a boycott of Cat Yronwode and Lucky Mojo, because she and her business support SOPA and PIPA.)

But, what is it? I mean, if you've very carefully followed the news - attempting to sift through all the massive quantities of spin attached to the reporting - and read all the articles and discussed it with someone who can translate legalese, then you probably know, but what about everyone else? The problem with legislation such as this is that it is written in language few people speak (the aforementioned legalese), and then it is boiled down to a sound bite that is then fed to the public. What sound bite you ask?

SOPA/PIPA are designed to stop online piracy. 

This legislation is protecting copyright.

This legislation would stop the unlawful spread of someone else's copyrighted material.

If you're lucky, you've heard the part about making sure authors/musicians/artists get paid for their work, instead of it becoming a free source online. To a normal person, this sounds like the issue of book piracy we were just discussing, right? Except, that's not really what the law is set out to do. 
SOPA and PIPA are designed to either block an entire website from being accessed, or to stop payments going to a website should it be deemed they are using copyrighted material. On the surface this sounds like the elimination of sites like Pirate Bay or programs like Limewire that allow free filesharing of movies, music, pictures, and pretty much anything else one can upload. Sounds good, right?

But, what if a blogger using the Blogspot domain posts a piece of copyrighted material? The legislation deems that all of Blogspot - including this blog - could be deemed inaccessible. At least, through conventional means. 

This legislation also doesn't take into account the understanding of Fair Use, which allows the republishing of copyrighted material under certain circumstances

Now, I could spend all day trying to boil down SOPA and PIPA, but I would just like to instead say this: Fire Lyte and Inciting A Riot's various media projects stand with the protests against SOPA and PIPA. While piracy is a bad thing, this much of an overreach is obscene and a step in a very bad, very dark direction for the United States. But, don't take my word for it. Below is a video from the massively excellent New Left Media. (You've heard me talk about them before.) It explains, in terms everyone can understand, exactly what PIPA and SOPA are, and the full scope of their legislation. It dispels the myths and talking points, and gives you the meat of the issue. 


Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte


  1. I can understand why people would want to crack down on piracy. I really do. This bill is not the right way to go about it. I don't have an alternative solution to post here, but I'm sure there is one, and I just can't think of it right now. The book "1984" is a novel, not an instruction manual.

    1. Jess, darling, clearly you're not a science-fiction fan. I must revoke your eligibility for membership into the Orwell Or Well Hell Club. :P (jk jk)

  2. Wow. Not "wow" at SOPA and PIPA, I'm already aware of what's going on there (and that it's the thin end of the wedge; I don't want any of the wedge thank you very much) but "WOW" at the vitriol spewed out of cat yronwode. I'm suddenly grateful she lives in a different country than me. I haven't ever bought from her online store, but I do have her Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic book (and still think it's superb; I can appreciate the work whilst being appalled at the person). Piracy and copyright theft are wrong, but blasting people with a shotgun? For copyright theft? (AND for stealing her teacups? REALLY?) Anyway, glad to see you have taken a stand m'dear, you carry on lighting that fire.

    1. I missed what Cat said is there a place where I can read it?

    2. Moria, here is the link to a list of her quotes I found on another blog that was posted on my Facebook. Wow. That was a mouthful. :) http://blog.shivian.com/post/16076894057/the-charming-sopa-pipa-supporter-cat-yronwode

  3. HI! New follower. I stalked you over to here from our conversation on Naylas Facebook. Love the post. Love the blog. Looking forward to reading your blog! :) Hugs


  4. Being from a rather poor country, I can understand piracy and copy right infringement from both sides. In Costa Rica, once the CAFTA was passed, suddenly all copy-stores were declared illegal - unless they did "harmless" copies, such as copying a letter, an invoice, an ID card for some procedure requiring it. Copy stores around universities - where it's their natural habitat - were massively closed. Both professors and students couldn't copy their material anymore, nearly sending students to either photograph with their phones the pages of the books they couldn't affors, or go back some 2000 years in history and handcopy the chapters they needed to study. Pirated DVD's were still sold(and still are)in every corner of the Capital City and major cities, but they attacked the most vulnerable sector: book reproduction (in a country where people don't read and buy the paper to look at the pictures. Really.)

    On the other side, there have been many cases also where someone has an idea for a business, and someone steals it and profits from it, killing the original one. (There's a case of an artisan jeweler who showed her work at a fair, was approached by a company - said to be interested in working with her - bought some of her work as samples and then copied her work and never gave her a dime.)

    So yes, I agree with you that not everything should be out there for the taking, and we must all recognize the work of the author - that's not the issue - the issue is the way laws are formulated and executed, that end up working backwards.

    Let's say SOPA and PIPA is "good", "piracy" is stopped... will the actual authors benefit from it? Will J.K.Rowling get more money if her books stop being scanned and copied and her characters used in the most ---- ways to produce tones and tons of fanfics that range from Generic-Generic to NC-21-slash-femslash-and-all-you-though-impossible? Will Lady Gaga get more money for their music if piracy is stopped?

    Sure, if they get a share of the sales they will... except that if you can't get it cheaper, many won't try to buy it, less people will hear it, less people will share it and sales will drop. Even worse if, emboldened with the whiping of the pirates, companies feel they don't have to "compete" with the cheaper version and can charge any price their want. Companies will get their cut, but authors and performers may not. End of line, it's not about piracy, it's about how do you fight it or what are you actually doing.

    1. Quote "Let's say SOPA and PIPA is "good", "piracy" is stopped... will the actual authors benefit from it? Will J.K.Rowling get more money if her books stop being scanned and copied and her characters used in the most ---- ways to produce tones and tons of fanfics that range from Generic-Generic to NC-21-slash-femslash-and-all-you-though-impossible? Will Lady Gaga get more money for their music if piracy is stopped?" end quote

      See that is the heart of the matter. All SOPA and PIPA do is make the website inaccessible. It does nothing to compensate the artists, authors, actors, etc; it just makes the website unavailable for people the download the material. And the thing is, a mere accusation is enough to get you shut down.


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