How to Kill the Internet Overnight

Update (22:30 AEST): Added SOPA video for clearer understanding as well as the Further Reading section.
Prevention is the best cure
So chances are most of you won’t read this entire post until it’s too late and the internet has already died. We don’t ask much of you here at MBFilms – except watch, comment, and be creative – but this is in desperate need of your support. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) needs help to stop the SOPA legislation killing the internet.

To help support freedom of the internet:
Contact your members of Congress and speak out about your freedom! (U.S. only). If outside the U.S. we ask you blog, share status updates, tweet, and whatever means are necessary (within reason) to pressure people to know and support the EFF!


Here at MBFilms, we don’t like to get involved in political issues – that’s not our job. We won’t be crying when Facebook makes another layout change, or we are faced with another Fail Whale on Twitter. Sure these things annoy us, but we’re not here to discuss that.

We are however here to spread the important news relating to film, music, and video games, among other creative media. This is why when I found out about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) I was in mixed emotion. From the name itself it appears to help us people who own intellectual property, returning our power from pirates. But read a little further into the issue and you learn that these people in parliament actually have no idea of what they’re about to do.

I love YouTube. I really do. It’s Google for the visual. YouTube taught me how to tie my tie from the Windsor Knot to the Four-in-Hand. It also was there when I was waiting for people to get dressed while I watched some LOLCats. It showed me many new wave filmmakers (FreddieW, Corridor Digital, Mystery Guitar Man, Nice Peter, etc.) and allowed me to see things in a new mind.

And I’m not alone. The internet is our most used thing in the world – some would even say it is a necessity. Our lives are online whether you want to or not. You can fight it, but eventually you’ll be left behind and no one is going to save you – mainly because they won’t know where you are since you rejected the GPS brain insertion digital upgrade. But the fact is, the internet has opened the connectedness universally.

And just like everything in the world there are people who use things correctly, and hen those who do not. Now I’m not here to mother you into not pirate software, films, music, etc. That’s not my job because you know the rules of the game. But what I do want to have a say in is where intellectual property ceases to be a sharing thing and becomes this business.

I don’t mean business as in four walls of a warehouse, but stopping the main reason we are in a creative stream of occupation. As far as I’m concerned, when you enter a creative stream – filmmaking, web design, musician, photographer, typographers, etc. – you give up a desk for life. You make a decision to share and entertain the world. You say “here is what I want you to enjoy!” not “Here is what I want you to pay $1.99 for so I can get a 75% cut of the pie and buy shoes.”

We live a double edge sword life – we want to share our story, yet have to survive financially. But this is where it really breaks my heart:

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

SOAP?! No… SOPA

So this is a legislation that is going on in America (which impacts the globe) that gives the government, and private parties the power to interfere with our Domain Name Servers (DNS). In simple english, if you use something that’s not your intellectual property say goodbye.

The legislation effectively allows the government and private parties to force your internet Service Provider (ISP) to blacklist you/your website. If this happens, the user is redirected to a “This site under review for piracy/copyright violations” page.

But doesn’t that mean no more illegal torrents?

Yes. Which is probably what the legislation was proposed to do but they are going to end up killing the internet overnight. How?

Okay. So I’m a fan of Fleetwood Mac, but you know what I don’t have the time to but one of their albums. So I venture onto YouTube and listen to the VEVO channel. Oh hang on, what’s that on the sidebar? A cover… 100K views? Must be good. And you know what! Jimmy Wong and Missglamorazzi did a fantastic job that I listen to the video on repeat.

How many times have you come across a video that is better or equal to the original? Not because the original was not great, but because the alternative was unique. Well you can say farewell, au revoir, ciao, see ya later alligator! All because that person breached SOPA’s policy. They had used online intellectual property that isn’t theirs! OH NO!

So that’s a very direct example and obvious of the breach. I think it’s time we “look harder…”

It just got personal

So I want to talk about MBFilms. We are a film company that has a review section. Now we aren’t in breach of the SOPA legislation as such because the films are not made for online. But let’s say we review Mystery Guitar Man’s Once Upon and I include a screenshot, maybe a video, or a quote. And on this particular day MGM has a copyright frenzy and files against us. We’re gone. Simple.

There is a fine line between sharing and theft. And there’s also a rule written somewhere that says corporates and creatives shouldn’t intervene in each other’s business. I don’t know who initiated the legislation, nor do I care – as far as I’m concerned if you support it [SOPA] you need to take a long look at human evolution.

I just want to put this out there – for the records. There is no such thing as uniqueness – not in our day and age anyway. Ever since King Camp Gillette made thin razor blades global, revolutionising how we approach personal beauty never has there been a brand new, unique razor blade. It’s been advanced, but not invented.

The same goes for film, books, music, etc. Ever since the first gangster film was made, every other film of the same genre was a duplicate. Ever since the electronic sound was made electronica was no longer a one-off item. So I ask this:

If the legislation is passed – and we fall to SOPAs helm – does Jorn Barger have the power to sue every blogging platform for using his term? Does YouTube sue Vimeo for stealing their idea? Do we kill the internet forever?

Simply, NO NO NO NO NO!

What makes it worse…

Well if passed, websites like ours – which we love to do – need to be under 24/7 surveillance for comments, contributions, user submissions for things that could get us blacklisted. But it’s not only us. We had a forum, and removed it but for the websites that do, and the ones you go on every post, section, signature, everything will need to be approved. Talk about going back to snail mail speed. You have a problem and post it to StackOverflow, we’ll maybe it may take weeks before you get an answer because the first ten replies are all extracts from some coder’s blog and now has the power to sue StackOverflow.

And you know those videos with a snippet of bouncy music that is actually a loop of The Good News by Philadelphia Grand Jury… well that’s now going to be rejected. Actually the only way to know it exists is if we text message the video to one another. But then why would you own a smartphone anymore? The app you want to download is actually now removed because the concept isn’t original and you’re forced to rely on the original developer to implement your suggestions.


The implications are endless, and not thought through. So many people rely on the internet to make their content global.

Every film that we make, every song that we produce, every photo we take no longer is available for you. No more spreading the news, no more insight.

Just kill the internet together.


Notes

So I said it was global, and you may be thinking, “American law isn’t my law”. And you’re right, but coming from a Media and Communications background you are taught the effects actions have internationally – increasingly due to the internet’s accessibility. What happens is the country that the content is viewed upon, and if breaking the law in that country you are responsible to represent yourself in that country.

You may write an article from your living room, but if it’s read in America then you’ve just breached the law.

Further Reading