On SOPA/PIPA (For the People Who Aren’t Blacked Out)
I’m using WordPress’ “blackout” function today, so most people are seeing the site blacked out through 8pm tonight, but some folks can see it (it seems mostly in countries other than the US, but also some in the US). For those not being blacked out, here’s what I wrote on the blackout page.
I am speaking for myself and only myself.
Here’s the deal. I am a professional writer and the owner of copyrights. I strongly believe that I have a moral and legal right to control how my work is displayed and distributed, online and off. I believe that when my copyrights are violated, I should have a robust set of tools to deal with the issue, if such is my choice, online and offline. I believe every owner of copyrights — everyone who creates art — has these same moral and legal rights, and should have the same ability to address violations. Creators should be able to present their creations on their terms, not anyone else’s.
SOPA/PIPA aren’t the way to do this. These proposed laws are poorly constructed, overly broad and frankly thoughtless, the equivalent of dealing with burglars in someone’s home by carpetbombing every house on the street. You might stop the burglar, but the collateral damage makes it a hollow victory. The collateral damage here would be the hamstringing of the Internet, and trampling rights of speech and expression. That these proposed laws have been debated by a number of US Representatives and Senators who seemed proud of their ignorance of how the Internet works (and at least initially didn’t want to hear from technical experts) made it that much worse.
Let me reiterate: I strongly support the right of creators and copyright owners to control and defend those copyrights, online and offline, and welcome rational, useful tools that allow us to do that. I think it’s possible to create laws, treaties and agreements that allow for such tools without fracturing, possibly to the point of destruction, one of the most successful media for individual expression that we’ve yet managed to devise. We just have to decide to do it intelligently. Encourage your representatives and senators to do that, rather than passing SOPA/PIPA.
— John Scalzi
(Whatever will return in its usual form at 8pm Eastern)