Wednesday, 18 January 2012

SOPA – US stop piracy law causes 24 hour internet blackout protest.

wikipedia

“Using a sledgehammer to crack a nut!”" That is the idea that comes to mind when I think about the proposed law to prevent internet piracy in the US which may shortly be implemented. Many large internet sites such as Reddit and Wikipedia (above) have blacked out their pages for 24 hours today (18th Jan 12) in a unified protest against this horrendously overbearing law which could have ramifications not just in the US but worldwide.

SOPA

The Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA law was introduced to the US House of Representatives by Texas Republican Lamar Smith on 26th October 2011. In effect, it authorizes the shut down of any site in the US or overseas sharing any intellectual property, like music, films, videos, programs that originated in the United States. It also goes after any site that forward links so that you can share as well, even if that site is hosted out of the US. Now I am against sharing, but the basis of this law is this. Potentially, if a site like YouTube (for example) had only one clip on it which breached US copyright law, then as I understand it, the whole of YouTube itself could be shut down by the US government. The onus lies on the site host to check every single link, video, mp3 you name it. Instead of targeting the person or people who initiated the breach of copyright which is what should happen, this law could hit everyone using the host site, even if they themselves are innocent. Remember the Iron Curtain that dropped over the countries of Eastern Europe after the 2nd World War?? Well it is reappearing in the United States of all places, in an intellectual form. Even’s Russia’s internet laws will be more free and open than in America, if this law is fully implemented.

The chart above of the law when it was drafted shows a New Moon in Scorpio, a time for starting new projects. Scorpio new moons show potential for secrecy and ultimate control. This new moon is very singular in it’s purpose, it is rather Aries in nature, however if there is a fault about a New Moon it is that it tends you not to consider other points of view. Decisions made under a new moon can be rather one sided. Notice that this chart has no planets in mutable signs at all. This was a very fixed decision without any flexibility.

The bill’s chart featured an opposition to Jupiter in Taurus so it had worldwide ramifications. Taurus is a very possessive sign, you like to hold onto what you have and of course Jupiter is the planet that signifies the law. Now we have a t-square here connecting Mars in Leo opposite Neptune in Aquarius squared by Venus and Mercury in Scorpio. This is the basis of the bill. Performers and creators (Leo) can take aggressive and punitive (Scorpio) action (Mars) over their music, films, TV programmes and intellectual property (Neptune/Mercury) shared (Venus) over the internet (Aquarius/Mercury). The Neptune Mars opposition also makes a wedge formation with authoritarian Saturn in Libra here is the influence of Government over the content of the bill and this Saturn also makes a quindecile to Jupiter. Just like the Costa Concordia accident chart I looked at a couple of days ago, a focused pointer is created including a quindecile from Jupiter to Venus/Mercury. This was a significant moment, that would reach far beyond the act of initiating the bill.  Not only is this a hard-line (Saturn) law (Jupiter), it restricts (Saturn) social (Venus) and intellectual (Mercury) freedom (Jupiter).

Sitting in the background of course when this bill was created was the spectre of the Pluto/Uranus square, which is now reforming again after moving out of range over Christmas and the New Year. Pluto brings control of independence and individual action represented by Uranus. The thing is, Uranus will plainly refuse to back down, this is the rebel planet after all, now moving in all action Aries. Thus we have the protest on the internet supported by Wikipedia and Reddit with Google, YouTube, WordPress, Facebook, Mozilla  AOL, Zynga, Twitter, eBay and others all operating but voicing their displeasure.

On a personal level, I think the US lawmakers have been over influenced in their decisions by the money-makers in Hollywood, who have in no doubt backed this bill. My argument is this. The internet has now been around for 30 years. Is there any slow up in creativity because of file sharing? In my view no, indeed I think creativity has thrived and more people are now making wonderful art, music and films than ever before. Technology has opened up the creative process to billions of people on the planet. In the US, cinema takings were up in 2010 but attendances down, in main due to rising prices and not the fact that people were watching films on their computers. We all have to adapt to changing circumstances in life, and so too does America. The bottom line is if prices are reasonable and quality is high, then people will go to watch and to listen and pay for the original material. Remember, the ones pushing this bill are the ones with money in their pockets in the first place. They are not the losers in this bill, the humble internet user all over the globe will be, and his or her freedom of speech will be impaired.

I am British living in the UK and as I always understood it, freedom of speech was an integral part of the US constitution. In the UK, if our rights were threatened like this, there would be riots on the streets, as was proved last summer. If this awful bill is implemented into US law, then on this issue America will no longer be the land of the free and the home of the brave, it will be the land of the oppressed and the home of the timid. Fear and greed are ruling over intelligence and choice. The stakes on this one are very, very high.

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