Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Letter to my Reps Re: SOPA and PIPA

I blog, so I figure I would weigh in with my Senators and Representative.  If you don't know anything about these web censorship acts working their way through Congress, here's a good article from the Washington Post that sums up everything, as well as wikipedia articles about SOPA and PIPA.

By the way, Internet, don't shoot me for linking other sources.


Dear Representative/Senator/Elected Official,

I am a blogger and a sketch comedian living in Chicago.  I link to other webpages and occasionally use images from other sources (with attribution), but what I write is my own.  I’m not concerned for my legal safety.  If worst comes to worst, I can always not link anything, not use any images or just not blog in general.  Obviously, enhanced piracy laws would inhibit my ability to express myself freely, but I’ll find other ways to do that if I have to.  People always do.

Besides, I hope that someday someone will actually pay me to write things and, once that happens, copyright will become my friend.  I’m not against copyrighting or making money off of products that cost money.

I am, however, concerned that the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Acts would negatively impact many web services that provide people with an outlet for expressing themselves.  I’m worried for the people who, like me, generate their own material and share it through sources like Youtube, Flickr, Vimeo and the various blogging platforms (Blogger, Tumblr, etc.) and web hosting sites used by countless creative people to express themselves.  Removing the safeguards allowed these sites to deal with abuses and giving the DOJ to simply remove these sites from the DNS registries could be tantamount to a death sentence for all of us that use these services to share our own work.  For instance, if Youtube were completely taken down because someone shared a movie trailer illegally, my own video that I wrote and made myself should not be punished at the same time.  That’s punishing me for someone else’s crime, as well as depriving other people the chance to see me do something stupid on the internet.

And requiring these companies to actively police everything people link to?  Really?  I can’t begin to imagine the burden, financially and physically, this kind of requirement would be for these companies.

I understand the challenges of an expanding Internet and that there need to be protections allowed to businesses that make their money through content generation.  I would only ask that Congress act in such a manner that does not negatively impact those of us that generate our content for no monetary gain, and that they act in the best interest of everyone involved.

I appreciate your time and consideration.


-Nat Topping

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