In What I’m Sure Will Be Considered an Ironic Act By Some

One of the first things I did after the SOPA/PIPA blackout page here came down? Sent information to lawyers about a file sharing site illegally offering up my work for download.

It’s not actually ironic, as I noted I’m all for the right of creators to be able to defend their copyrights online (and I’m happy I get to borrow my publishers’ lawyers to do so). But if you’re a binary thinker who believes that being against SOPA/PIPA means you therefore have to be fine with people violating copyrights it probably seems so. But those people, well. They’re silly.

32 thoughts on “In What I’m Sure Will Be Considered an Ironic Act By Some

  1. Totally valid to do so. SOPA was too much bypassing of rights to really be allowed, there are plenty of current options to handle the infringers that I don’t think we need to make even more broad and biased laws to do so. In fact, I do think some of the current ones could be toned back after seeing several abuses (In my mind) of the DMCA law.

    Copyright should be protected… but not with the crappy SOPA/PIPA law set. Otherwise, totally go after the infringers with the current set of laws.

  2. She pretty much destroyed that word.

    It would have been ironic[1] if her next album had a song on it with lyrics like “my heart turned to stone, literally. then I walked out the door. My head exploded, literally, then I put the pedal to the floor.”

    [1] I said she destroyed it, didn’t I?!?!?

  3. X is a problem. Bill Y is an attempted solution to problem X. Therefore, Bill Y should be passed into law.

    This is how terrible laws are made.

  4. CLP:

    Or the military formulation, as I’ve heard it: we must do something, this is something, therefore we must do it.

  5. Kevin, that is a PERFECT summary. Unfortunately, it doesn’t just apply to SOPA.The next question is “Why”? Is it the process that gets people elected that mkes them susceptible to thinking like this? Is it the sheer complexity of running a government (States are not immune to the problem.)? How do we fix it? It isn’t just a matter of laws being passed that we disagree with; it is a matter of BAD laws being passed. Changing parties or ideologies will not fix the problem.

  6. I’m with you, John. I think that copyrights should be protected, and that authors and other artists deserve to be paid for their work. But SOPA and PIPA are just bad bills.

  7. Unfortunately a lot of sites now will post your cease and desist letter on Chilling Effects if you ask them to take down copies of your work. The standard Google request to a DCMA request is to post the request on Chilling Effects. The result of this tends to be a wave of negative reviews on sites like Amazon. So good luck if it works (and given your prominence in the world people are less likely to want to mess with you) – but as many not so prominent authors have learned, a lot of pirate sites start playing hardball if you ask them to take down your stuff. Chilling Effects. Review bombs. The works. Getting lawyers involved in dealing with the problem also gets expensive amazingly fast. Several publishers have already privately told authors that it’s not worth following up on because of the “whack a mole” problem.

  8. Go for it John. More power to ya and I hope the bastiches get busted. I, and a few others, have been in a pissing match with a couple of other people for a while. Our belief is that a content creator (artist/author/movie maker/software maker) is the person(s) who has the right to decide how the content is distributed. Sadly the folks on the other side (the ones pissing on their own feet!) believe that they–the consumer–have the right to decide how said content is distributed.

    Their main argument boils down to: “If it costs to much, fuck them I’m gonna pirate it any way I can to get it, then I’m gonna fuck them over by passing it along to others the same way… and if I can make a buck or two along the way… well fuck them with that too.”

  9. Optimus Spime:

    “Unfortunately a lot of sites now will post your cease and desist letter on Chilling Effects if you ask them to take down copies of your work… The result of this tends to be a wave of negative reviews on sites like Amazon.”

    Dude, I post my favorite one-star reviews here. This is not a stick that worries me.

  10. Hey John –

    I have a few links that I found for your stuff. Would you want me to email those to you like the last time I found some?

  11. sarcasm caption

    No, the bill is called “Stop online piracy act” therefore you must be FOR online piracy if you oppose it! Because all bills mean exactly what the title says and couldn’t possibly have any hidden meaning. You’re obviously just a hypocrite.

  12. so I have a question, should the hosting company be held responsible for not policing their site? Should it be their responsibility to remove the offending material? Should they be required to divulge the owner of the site? I am sure there are some other questions that could be asked as well.

  13. If one understands the act (as you clearly do) it isn’t ironic at all. I respect IP and I think those are terrible acts. These things can easily coexist.

  14. But if you’re a binary thinker who believes that being against SOPA/PIPA means you therefore have to be fine with people violating copyrights it probably seems so

    Pardon my lack of attribution (which is very bad), but I have to agree with the person who said SOPA/PIPA is like dealing with an outbreak of cockroaches in the kitchen by burning down the house with your family inside.

  15. You’re right, of course; People with copyrights need to have their rights under the law preserved. But SOPA/PIPA aren’t just swatting a fly with a sledgehammer, they’re swatting a fly with a fuel-air explosive device.

    Truth is, if we were to nail the Chinese with heavy tariffs over their wholesale thefts of intellectual property, and refused to stop until they cut it out, 90% of the “piracy” problem, in terms of actual dollars lost, would dry up. (Assuming you’re not doing something ridiculous like valuing a single MP3 file at $300K for the purposes of copyright-violation damages…)

  16. So do your lawyers go after the sites themselves, or just close each link as they crop up? I have always wondered what realistic options are open to those without a huge bankroll. (note: I am, of course, assuming that you don’t like to “make it rain” for said lawyers.)

  17. Just an observation, it sometimes seems that the people who are most opposed to the concept of ‘intellectual property rights’ are the ones who have never created a single thing in their whole lives. (They’re also the ones who would never admit that creative writing is *hard*.)

    I’ll cheerfully enjoy free stuff, but making it available at that price is the choice of the creator, not me, and not the mob.

  18. I agree with the comment “SOPA/PIPA is like dealing with an outbreak of cockroaches in the kitchen by burning down the house with your family inside.” Unfortunately, the general folks who may have been hiding under a rock recently hear only the sound bite version which is typically a one sentence general statement of ‘we’re defeating online piracy here, so don’t bother us with technicalities and let us do our work’. I’m sure the PAC commercials touting the patriotism of SOPA will be forthcoming.

  19. The blackout actually made to the frontpage of at least one newspaper over here in Germany. Granted, it’s a technology savy newspaper that even has a column with funny tweets (today it printed some of the “noo! where did my wikipedia go!” outrage), but… Newspaper!

  20. I don’t consider it an ironic act at all. Where a flyswatter is called for, use a flyswatter, not a pocket nuke.

  21. The flyswatter analogy would be true if all SOPA/PIPA were intended to do, metaphorically speaking, was to swat flies. It’s not. Having the power to shut down websites for ‘intellectual property violations’ goes far beyond stopping piracy and well into stopping any unwanted speech. It’s a workaround for the First Amendment and anti-SLAPP laws. Somebody making a humorous video about your company’s misbehavior? Claim they misused your intellectual property and not only get them off their website, but taken off search engines so that the video can’t simply be hosted elsewhere.

    That’s why groups like the US Chamber of Commerce adore these laws. (And frankly, if the USCC came out in favor of adorable puppies, that would be a sign that it’s time to take a hard look at whether adorable puppies are really just killer robots from Mars.)

  22. Scalzi, as someone who evidently makes use of them, what do you think of the current laws defending copyright? Latching on to the flyswatter analogy, do you think there are flies around that current flyswatter technology can’t handle?

  23. “Unfortunately a lot of sites now will post your cease and desist letter on Chilling Effects if you ask them to take down copies of your work. [...] The result of this tends to be a wave of negative reviews on sites like Amazon.”

    Posting a legitimate takedown request on a site like Chilling Effects could backfire. The site is to “understand the protections that the First Amendment and intellectual property laws give to your online activities”… which doesn’t include wholesale copying. It *does* include things like parody, journalism, and other kinds of fair use, but I really doubt Scalzi would be abusing copyright law in such a way that it would fall under the kind of thing that site is for.

    “The standard Google request to a DCMA request is to post the request on Chilling Effects.”

    That would be because in most cases, it’s either difficult for Google to actually do something that would be valid for a DMCA request, or because going after Google for what they are doing is a free speech issue. There are an awful lot of people, however, who seem to believe that copyright claims should be used to force Google to remove search links to things that they’d rather not have people see.

    For instance, the most recent one I see on that site for Google consists entirely of a list of URLs on sites Google has no relation to. They’re only getting this because their automated process found these links and identified them as relevant to someone’s search. Having a link to something really shouldn’t be illegal, especially if there’s no intent behind it.

  24. Way, way too many years ago I bought what I’m now pretty sure were pirated books:
    Paperbacks that had the front cover ripped off. *
    My thought at the time was that they seemed to be in pretty good condition for something
    that had lost a front cover.
    Decades later (after I’d learned off * ) I was reading a badgered and probably dogged,
    wolverined, and goated book somebody nicely ** told me that since the front cover
    was gone I was probably reading a book that neither the author nor publisher had
    been paid for.
    I’d been using the front cover as a bookmark, I showed it to him, and he said “Oh.”
    We didn’t have an interesting chat about printing presses and how they made
    copyright violations profitable.
    And we did not discuss how various authorities reacted to printing presses those
    few centuries ago.

    * The publishers had/(have?) a distribution method were small book stores that could
    only sell three of a title had to buy a case of it, and to get a refund for the unsold ones
    the store couldn’t send back the books: The stores had to rip off the front covers, throw
    out the book and return the front covers.
    Nobody got money, except the post office.
    ** It’s nice to be five foot twelve and a quarter, very few strangers are mean to ya.

  25. I see where you’re coming from, and I think copyright has a place in society, but I mean, life + 70? Come on. If copyright is that valuable to the kinds of entities that can twist the law until it says “life + 70″, then that in itself is a fairly strong argument against copyright.

  26. While I am against SOPA and PIPA, I’d like the writers I know to be able to earn a decent living (or a fantastic living for a few of them I know).

    People deserve to be paid fairly for their work. Which is actually what lot of the foo-foraw in the bigger political world is about. The bigwigs would rather enrich and embiggen their CEOS and etc. than let the money go to people who work hard for them.

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