SOPA, PIPA and the Internet

It's all black today. Dozens upon dozens of websites are shut down to protest SOPA and PIPA, two wanna-bills that could fuck the internet, users of the internet and this country for a long time in the name of whiny conglomerates. You can still go to Wikipedia today and look them up, but that's it. Luckily, lots of congresspersons are backing out of their support for the bill already, but here's the thing, and here's what should really be said, aloud, in fiery language.

1. If the United States is a free-ish market economy, then companies like the record labels, NewsCrap (sorry, Corp) and so many others need to LEARN HOW TO COMPETE AGAIN. Just because your model is broken, because there are tools now that allow certain aspects of your materials (and I'm a writer, and I write a comic, and it sucks having material used without payment) to be misused, then change the way you distribute. If a film company realizes that off-shore sites steal their movies, well, that will ALWAYS happen, but they can take action to release the film online for a reasonable price in a safe, consistent, well-designed online venue. If I have the option to go to a shitty, pop-up laden site to watch new movie for free, or the option to pay $2 to see it on my browser, I'd pay the money. Not everyone wants subscriptions, not everyone likes iTunes, so please guys, take some initiative and become competitive in a new way instead of crying that the world changed and left your dinosaur ass with mouthful of rotten fern. Look at Louis CK.

2. Whether you believe it or not, various lobbying industries, people who link, even to sometimes questionable content, are providing you free press and free marketing. If I talk about an album in this space, and I offer people tracks that were uploaded somewhere, there's a better chance that they'll buy the album. The same goes for links on message boards, comment streams and all of it. Assuming that one pirate makes a slippery slope where no one will ever buy your shit is stupid. I mean, Adele's two albums topped the sales charts this year... and you know those are free tons of places.

3. If you want people to respect your industries, engage them instead of litigating against them. You can't change the minds of the population by telling them they're wrong and punishing them. Guess what, that just makes people think you're an even bigger dick. People don't like being told what to do. We all have a conscience. We will pay for things if you treat us like people instead of wallets.

4. Just make better shit. Part of the reason that people steal movies and music and other media is because there's a pretty heavy consumer risk involved. If I go to some terrible new release film like Anonymous, I'm out $15, plus 2 hours of my life, (which if I'm working is another $40). That makes me not want to take chances on movies because they more often than not SUCK. Music is similar. And even while I listen to a lot, I wouldn't if I had to drop $15 for every risk. You guys realize that a lot of people don't have money right? Maybe if you designed your system to entice buyers by giving them the option to buy into something, we'd trust you more. And hey, if we pay for it once, and our computer breaks or we lose it for some reason, how about you guys take the initiative to give us what we paid for again.

5. More than that, the internet isn't some magical territory that requires magical new laws. It's an extension of the world that already exists. People were lending each other records and CDs and VHS a long time ago. People were recording movies from TV and pirating that way too. It's unfair, yes, but you can't just brutalize your way out of the changes in the world. So, really, let's get smarter, not more litigious. If you don't want people to experience your art, don't put it out there. If you don't want them to steal it, don't put it out there. If you want people to see it, then expect it to be stolen, but count on the fact that if you do great work it will motivate more people to pay a little instead.

That's all I have to say about that. This rant is meant only to create new positive relationships.

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