As today is the blackout to raise awareness of the SOPA/PIPA bills in the United States Congress and Senate I decided to contact my representatives with my thoughts. I used my Twitter to thank my congressional representative, Erik Paulsen* for not supporting SOPA, I called Senator Amy Klobichar to tell her how upset I was over her support of PIPA and I’ve posted my letter to Senator Al Franken about his support of PIPA below. I urge you all to research the bills, form your opinions, and, should you agree with me about the threat they pose, to contact your representatives.
Dear Senator Franken,
I cannot describe how upset I was when I found out you were supporting PIPA. I can understand your position, unlike most Senators, you have Intellectual Property to protect. I hope to publish a novel someday and I know that if it happens chances are my book will be pirated. Heck, people already steal posts from my days at Marvel Entertainment and post them on their blogs with little to no attribution (sometimes they’ll even translate them into Russian first). I do not look forward to that day. However, as someone who got his start in comedy I cannot believe you want to hand control of the internet over to people who gladly pull down YouTube videos for “copyright infringement” that routinely turns out to be Fair Use (it happens to This Week in Tech, a widely-respected tech news show, with startling frequency).
These are people who would stand in the way of progress, who would rather see their current model continue rather than take that next step into the future. You would be handing the keys to the future of content to people who want the electric car kept in the garage so they can keep driving their Hummers without guilt.
I know that PIPA would not explicitly hamper innovation and freedom of speech, but it would give people with the desire to protect their property at any cost the tools to do so. It would inspire fear in anyone who wanted to post a video of themselves playing the ukulele and singing a song by the artist du jour, in anyone using examples to discuss the implications of the treatment of women in the latest controversial comic book, in anyone who wanted to make a joke or parody about copyrighted material. They could get sued for everything, or maybe, if they’re lucky, their website will merely be blocked from the entire United States until they are able to clear their name.
I’m not opposed to protecting the intellectual property of the fine content creators of the United States and beyond, but I would rather eliminate piracy by allowing a well-informed public to purchase or borrow easily-available content than keep them away from that same content through fear. I would like to buy a book because I want to support the author and publisher, not because I’m afraid of what would happen if I downloaded a copy.
Please, Senator Franken, reconsider your position on PIPA.
PS: I posted a copy of this email, along with illustrative links at my blog https://literateknits.wordpress.com
*admission: Erik’s an acquaintance of mine and he knows my Dad, I was really glad to avoid raking him over the coals on this.