This Is Happening: SOPA/PIPA: Voices of the (Soon To Be) Voiceless

For those of you who were confused by Wikipedia being down for 24 hours, and angered at not being able to finish your essay on time, do not fret, your stress was not in vain. It was in protest of an attempt to put a vice grip on the last real forum of free speech. This seemed like more than enough reason to interrupt my celebration of live dance music to talk about something that is sure to effect us all.

The U.S. Congress is voting on whether to pass a bill called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and another called PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). Quite frankly, the whole idea sounds like a George Orwell novel on the music industry.

The aforementioned bills, if passed, will give a disproportionate amount of power to the entertainment industry, who will be able to filter, remove and block any piece of material that they deem to be a copyright infringement. Search engines will be monitored to ensure proper IP infringement filters are in use and are liable to legal action if not.

From what I’ve gathered in my readings on the subject, while the main targets of illegal downloaders and “web pirates” stands to be blocked from the Internet, the law will also block family videos from being uploaded if the backing soundtrack is a copyrighted piece of audio.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve always thought of that as a bit of free promotion and I’m not the only one. The video at the bottom of this page was made known to me by none other than Chromeo (or whoever runs their Facebook page).

“Our success owes a lot to support from blogs that disseminate music for free. Free music online builds careers and actually drives record sales. Of course, music business legislation has to adapt to new modes of online music consumption. We will eventually get compensated for all those downloads and streams. But in the meantime, censorship is not the way to go. Musicians need to speak out against SOPA.”

And they are right. My first listen of Soulwax was a YouTube viewing of E-Talking followed by a download of the Most of the Remixes double album. I’ve since seen them four times, own six of their albums, a vinyl single of NY Excuse, as well as two T-Shirts. I’ve also referenced them quite extensively in this blog. That is a hell of a return to get from an illegal download.

As for how this effects us in Australia, history has shown that our government is like an idolising younger brother of America. God forbid this ever touches our shores because with this law, this blog is already at risk from being blocked in America. What happens to bloggers like me, and music lovers like you if we get hit with something similar? And how far will they take it? Will DJ’s need to start getting permission to play songs in their set? It is a far stretch but then again, so is the reach of this law.

Watch this video and please, share your thoughts because this law could be the catalyst of where the music industry goes from here.


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