Respect for art helps avoid SOPA and PIPA
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012 10:02
Within recent months the SOPA and PIPA bills respectively have caused quite the disturbance among the general populace as well as the Internet community, leading to a myriad of online petitions and a plethora of calls to respective state representatives — eventually culminating into a 24-hour blackout of websites such as Wikipedia, and Reddit with search-engine giant Google showing their support by blacking out the title of their homepage.
The reasoning behind propagating these laws is understandable. The intent is to protect property that has been copyrighted and prevent piracy of said property.
But you and I both know that regardless of the laws in place people will find ways to access these pirating sites and will continue to steal this property. Making these sites illegal and allowing law enforcement to actively pursue perpetrators will not curb the frequency of illegal online activities, and worse, much like certain prohibition laws, it could in fact bolster usage leading to a flourishing digital black market.
I'd like to make it clear here that I do not support either SOPA or PIPA, but I do support their intent, and that is to protect the property — chiefly intellectual property — of others. Though I feel this can be accomplished not through laws alone, but through the sum of individual decisions. How? It's quite simple really. Stop downloading property illegally. Not just music, movies or software, I mean all of it. Do not download anything illegally.
This isn't exactly the most popular stance to promote, but I feel it is the right one. No matter how one may twist the truth to legitimize their activities, it is stealing.
Typically in most conversations I have had upon this topic, the arguments tend to be as follows: "The music industry makes too much money," or "I love music, but I don't have enough money to buy it."
We'll start with the latter point: "I love music, but I don't have enough money to buy it." This statement falsifies itself. I am of the position that if you download music illegally you do not love it in any manner whatsoever. In fact one who downloads music illegally is an enemy of the arts.
If you truly loved the arts — let's not limit it to music but include movies and other artistic mediums as well — you would not steal it. When one truly likes an artist, then they should be more than willing to save their money and spend it on the material they desire.
This need to acquire music whenever you feel like it via illicit downloading seems to stem from a false sense of entitlement that permeates our generation. The fact is nothing is owed to us simply by manner of being. This property is not ours in any way. We did not create it, and through these activities we become nothing more than petty thieves stealing not for necessity, but because we just can't wait to legally buy it — whatever the "it" may be.
If you've decided to keep reading and not discard this column in protest, let's move on to the former point: "The music industry makes to much money." I'll be honest with you. As a reader, I have no idea whether the industry's elites make too much money, but I do feel confident in saying that their lifestyle is far from deprived. The problem with this argument is that none of us are actually in the position to make it.
What qualifications do you or I possess to think that we can suddenly start categorizing people as making too much money simply due to our perception of their wealth? Using the music industry's elites' perceived wealth as justification for stealing the intellectual property of an artist quite frankly seems just a few strides shy of forcefully re-appropriating people's wealth for groundless reasons.
If you don't want bills like SOPA or PIPA to become the norm of Internet regulation, then the solution is simple. Stop partaking in Internet piracy, and start paying for the intellectual property you desire. These bills, while flawed, were introduced to prevent these illicit actions.
Idealistically if people cease this activity then the need for these regulations becomes a moot point.
Of course this is in an ideal world, and since this world doesn't exist. I know that people will continue to download property illegally, though I am willing to settle for the consolation prize.
When you feel compelled to download the newest [insert your material desire here] buy another one in its place, or just buy one of the many albums, movies, or software you would have pirated. These seemingly insignificant actions can make all the difference if a sufficient number of individuals partake in them.