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SOPA/PIPA - What Does It Mean for You and Me?

By MClarissa

What do you do when another person or entity steals your intellectual property? Well that depends on who you are. If you are an indie business you troll the net, put the man hours in and send cease and desist letters. If you are a large porn company then you create jobs for people to find pirate loot and innovate technology. Both picking their battles wisely. However, If you are an entertainment monolith like Disney, you legally bribe elected officials to pass legislation that enables them to decry every link post pirated, every competitor and netizen a pirate. Instead of actually trying to fix a legitimate problem, corporate entities and their polipuppets attempted to sneak SOPA/PIPA past We The People.

If Hollywood and our Government really wanted to deal with piracy like the responsible leaders they claim to be, they would follow the lead of indie entertainment and the adult industry. What is SOPA/PIPA and why it's so blatantly evil you wonder? Despite the acronyms Stop Online Piracy Act/Protect IP Act, it is more like Orwellian newspeak. Its benevolent sounding name masks its true intent. Though very little in the legislation would have inhibited the theft and resale of property by the biggest pirates here and abroad (China is one of the biggest offenders) it does give sweeping power to large corporate entities and government over website content. Mere accusation or a link to something that might be considered pirated (even if it was not posted by site owner) is reason enough to shut down a site as well as seize its finances. There is no oversite committee, no warrant needed, with little recourse for the site owner. It also does not apply in reverse. A small indie company can not easily shut down the site of a large company if it has pirated their content. SOPA would practically legalize theft from small content creators, squash competition, and stifle dissent. Maybe that was one of the reasons for rigorous bipartisan support, especially in a time of such global political turmoil. This is the age of Wikileaks, Bradley Manning, Occupy, Anonymous, Tea Party, and world wide revolution. Pirate is the new terrorist, which used to be the communist, which was the witch, which was the heretic. Different name but all the same blame game fame.

No one really feels the sting of financial loss due to piracy as acutely as indie entertainment and the adult industry. They simply do not make as much revenue and have nearly as much resource as MNC's (Multi National Corporations) and Hollywood monoliths. Theft of a movie, clip, or music can take a huge bite out of the bottom line. Depending on the size of the company this can mean not just loss of profit but whether or not rent gets paid and whether or not new creative projects are possible. On the other hand, MNC'S and Hollywood face profit losses that may chip away at expected black but with little to no chance of sending them spiraling into the red.

With a smaller size and fewer resources, indie and adult entertainment combat piracy numerous ways. None of which include censorship or abuse of power. Lloyd Kaufman of Troma studio takes a completely different approach to piracy.

As a staunch advocate for a free internet, he does not waste his time or resources pursuing the errant rips even when he finds them on YouTube. Instead, he maintains Troma profits by creating a niche product, adding value to tangible goods like bonus DVD packs. He also is an unwavering supporter of the arts, indie film making/ers AND his rabid fan base.

He has given many people their start in front and behind the camera and the appreciation can be witnessed at any convention as both fans and contemporaries descend on him like a hungry horde of undead. Lloyd remembers everyone. Troma fans WANT to support Troma. AND then there is the adult end of indie film. Porno palace Kink.com also fills a niche as well as pushes creative boundaries within its genre.

However, there is also the embrace of emerging technology. When mainstream entertainment resented the new ability for individuals to download video, Kink embraced it recognizing the potential it could bring along with an edge. Finding ways to constantly enhance the user experience while out pacing pirates in tech are more arrows in the quiver. But that's not all folks! Kink hires and well compensates staff to search for offenders. They do the leg work to find those reselling ripped off clips. Cease and desist letters are sent before invoking the heavy hand of the law. No need to go after the individual who shared or downloaded a clip. Contrast that to the behavior large media and entertainment behemoths engage in an attempt to thwart piracy.

They have aggressively gone after individuals like college kids who have downloaded an mp3 for personal use without paying for it. Re-compensation for the amount the music was worth was not pursued.

No. Instead, punitive amounts in the thousands and jail time are demanded. An individual caught stealing the physical version of the product, the penalty would be far less. That was merely the opening act for SOPA/PIPA and other net shredding awful legislation. Those actions look less like an entity defending itself from evil pirates but rather smacks of unrealistic expectations of profit with an eye towards entitlement. Worse, yet is the total lack of interest in the consumer's needs.

Forget about innovating and recognizing opportunity to adopt new emerging trends that could better serve the consumer and/or create a better product. If protection of intellectual property and US jobs were truly at the heart of this issue there are superior ways to combat it. Indie entertainment already has lit the path forward. They also know that piracy can never truly be eliminated merely mitigated and lessened.

We must keep vigilant against nefarious legislation like we successfully did against SOPA/PIPA, keep others like HR 1981 from passing, and work on repealing ACTA which is the multinational nastier version of SOPA/PIPA- "That ISPs have to cut off the Internet access of accused copyright infringers or face liability. This means that your entire family could be denied to the internet -- and hence to civic participation, health information, education, communications, and their means of earning a living -- if one member is accused of copyright infringement, without access to a trial or counsel." Most importantly, the spirit and language of human creativity and freedom of expression (or dissent) can not be sacrificed at the altar of profit or to protect corruption.

Remember boys and girls, most of us have at some point watched a movie/show or downloaded music we might not have paid for. Maybe because it was too expensive, maybe morbid curiosity, poverty, or some other reason. Think about the really moving stuff, the kind that inspired devotion, emotion, and yes, even promotion. We may in fact all be pirates in a way and that might not be a negative.

*The links in this article might not have been possible if SOPA passed though they may still go after me through ACTA for those links and my dissent.


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