First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak out because I was Protestant.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
According to Wikipedia, which is black today in protest against SOPA, “First they came…” is a famous statement attributed to pastor Martin Niemoller (1892-1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power.
If you think that SOPA doesn’t apply to you, and you have a gaming or any other kind of pop culture blog, you are very much mistaken. They are definitely coming for you. Those screenshots and frapsed video? Definitely someone else’s intellectual property. You could try and argue fair use, but I think that the pockets of most bloggers are much shallower than those of game companies.
If you post strong opinions about businesses or politicians, or if you review books or movies, SOPA applies to you.
Even if you live in a country which allows you to do things like post links to other sites (even if you are not providing pirated property at all) SOPA will apply to you. America (or rather the corporations behind every politician) have already won the right to extradite people who have committed no crime in their own country.
Posting lolcats? Better not. Ok, that is taking things to a silly extreme of course, but the point is that anyone will have the right to take your site down without hearing or proof. And they will do it.
The Oatmeal had the best anti-SOPA protest today; this says it all.
On a minor level, I’ve seen my own artwork pirated. I’ve seen it used on other sites and presented as other people’s work. I’ve written some nasty emails and had work taken down. If I was making any money at all from my art, then that would theoretically be costing me money. Would I stand behind something as corrupt as SOPA and PIPA to keep that from happening? Not in a million years.
Yes, I am a Bad Person. I admit that I do download things like TV shows and some music. But you know what? I wouldn’t be doing it if this media was sold at a fair price, or (in the case of TV shows) sold to a global market. Do you think that I want to watch my favourite shows a full season behind the US, after I’ve already read tons of spoilers? No, I want to experience it at the same time as everyone else. I would totally pay for ALL music if I didn’t feel that it was morally corrupt – the artist will be getting a few pence from every CD sold, and the music and movie industry is full of asshats. I don’t want to feel dirty – give me a way to buy music without supporting corporations that do so much harm in the world.
If I was prosecuted for downloading the odd Castle or True Blood episode, I would have to hold my hand up and say “yes, I did that and I knew it was wrong.” But having my site taken down because I post a negative review of a game and add some screenshots? Wrong.
So speak out. Don’t wait until there is no one left to speak for you.