The odds are the legislation Congress had been pondering to try to stop the piracy of movies by foreign websites that then use them to profit may indeed not have been the right way to go.
That said, it is disturbing that a large number of folks attacked it not on its merits as much as on the philosophy that everything on the Internet should be free in terms of sharing content.
Even though they won’t say it, having everything free regardless of nagging little details about ownership would please the folks who run Facebook and Google immensely. These are the same people who had to be stopped from putting up all printed books you’d find in a library up on the net without regard to copyrights and royalties.
How would you like it if some organization waltzed into your house and stripped it of all your belongings and sold it on e-Bay? You wouldn’t be happy.
And while that may sound far-fetched, it isn’t. There is ownership to movies, books, and music just like there is to all of the things that you accumulate. It’s a quaint American notion often called “property rights.” It is intellectual property just as much as the high tech software and hardware that companies like Google and Facebook deploy small armies of lawyers to zealously protect.
It was their investment of money, labor, and risk that made Google and Facebook possible. But applying the same logic everyone is to movies, anyone should be free to copy everything on both sites down to the last detail, including having a name that is easily confused with it so they can use the duplicate sites to sell advertising and make money.
It’s almost laughable the number of people who think the protest they did on the Internet is what turned politicians off to the bill. Guess again. Silicon Valley is the new Hollywood. In other words, they are now the glamour folks among the much vilified one percent who compile more wealth in a minute than any of the rest of us do in a year. They are also the ones who grease the palms of politicians better because they have more money.
Free is a relative concept.
If you were a musician trying to make a living you wouldn’t be thrilled if everything you produced was seized and taken freely. You also wouldn’t be happy if you either worked in - or owned - a store and people could simply come in and take anything they wanted without paying. The owner wouldn’t make any money and he or she wouldn’t have money to pay you. You might even call people taking stuff without paying for it for what it really is - stealing.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.