SOPA and PIPA…two BAD ideas

**Disclaimer – The opinions expressed in this posting are those of me, and millions of others around the world.  They DO NOT reflect those of my employer, and thus any complaints should be made to me, and me alone**

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) brought to you by the US House of Representatives and PIPA (Protect I.P. Act) brought to you by the US Senate are just about everywhere in the news.  All you need to do is try to access Google, Wikipedia and WordPress (just to name a few) and you see that there is basically universal condemnation of these bills which are, as the very least, a VERY slippery slope and have far-reaching implications.  What do I mean by that?  Try reading a website like this and all you get greeted with “Thanks for letting me borrow  ████ ██ ████ ██████████ ██ .███ ███ and a host of other sites.  Let’s ████ ██ ██████████ and then ██ then ███ ███.  In essence, this is what we are POTENTIALLY looking at.

For the record, I DO NOT believe in the use of copied software or music that you didn’t pay for…I believe in Intellectual Property rights.  If you create something, you have the right to be compensated for your work.  But it is up to the creator of the product to determine that.  Let me give you a personal example.

Once upon a time I ran my own consulting firm specializing in Linux and Open Source solutions.  I got a lot of requests for work on ██ ███ Linux.  While I didn’t have a direct partnership, I did mention that it was one of the distributions that I did work for people on.  While their logo was also on my website (with SPECIFIC mention that there was no corporate partnership, I was experienced in many flavors of Linux, including ██ ███.  At the same time I said that the logo was a Registered Trademark of ██ ███, just as I did with other Linux providers that I DID have a professional and legal agreement with.  In short, it was clear that I was not certified on ██ ███ but I was will and able to work on ██ ███ and did so weekly.  So imagine my surprise one night when I get a call from the legal department at ██ ███ and was told I had twelve hours to remove the logo and ANY mention of the words ██ ███ Linux from my website or I would find myself in court.  I said, “It’s clear on my site that I am only selling my services, and that I can work on your product.  Why would you not want this.  I am clearly giving you credit for the logo and have specifically stated that we are NOT partners as of yet”.  To me…it was a win-win.  My customers would see what I could do, and ██ ███ would get their name out.  “Nope” they said, and thus, ██ ███ was removed completely from my website and I ceased to do any work on ██ ███ Linux.  Instead, I focused on SuSE (it was spelled that way at the time) as I was a certified partner, and guess what…my ██ ███ customers…many of them, made the switch.

Now…I completely respect the logo thing…I was young and inexperienced at the time, and I don’t fault them for their opposition to it being on my site.  But it reminds me of when Scott McNealy testified in front of Congress about Microsoft’s attempt to trademark “NT”.  McNealy said “the only thing I’d rather own than [Microsoft] Windows is English or Chinese or Spanish, because then I could charge a $249 right to speak English. And I could charge you an upgrade fee when I add new letters like N and T.” In my case, I was going to have a lawsuit on my hands if I did not remove the words “██ ███ Linux” in that order…and I know for a fact that it was checked several times for a coupe of weeks to make sure I was in compliance.  How silly…or at least it seems like it to me…but then again, I don’t own ██ ███ .

But SOPA and PIPA…this is different.  What these two bills are setting up is the notion that if someone doesn’t like what you say (when you are quoting someone, for example) or using the words from a song, article or otherwise, you can get shut down for that.  The Internet was a great tool because while it is rampant with porn and other garbage, it provides the bridging of cultures, the creation of friendship and the free exchange of ideas.  With SOPA and PIPA we have the electronic equivalent of the Business Software Alliance (of which I am not a fan of) and it basically puts in place a way for people to “rat out” other people, even when there was no wrong-doing.  It just provides a way for someone to get back at someone for something they don’t like.

But what about sites like WordPress and Hosting companies such as GoDaddy and others?  Under these acts, THEY would be responsible for the content that falls under the scope of SOPA and PIPA for the simple fact that these servers are hosting the websites that contain this information.  What does that mean for GoDaddy and some of the other large hosting companies?  Simply put…potentially THOUSANDS of servers would be shut down if there was an issue someone wanted to push.

The net result of the passage of SOPA and PIPA would be that companies would begin to send their servers overseas to countries that don’t fall under US law, this killing jobs and economic growth.  If ever there was an example of how Government intervention and regulation was bad for the economy, this is it!  However, YOU have a voice in the matter, and can let your voice be heard!  Please go to https://www.google.com/landing/takeaction/ and register your opinion.  Also, please take a moment and make the picture on this posting (my blog) your Facebook and / or Google+ account profile picture.  Otherwise, we’ll be looking at a blog that reads like this: ████ ██████ ███████ ██████ ████ █ █████████ ██████ █████████ ██ ████ ██ ████.

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