Unless you live under a rock, you probably noticed that thousands of websites went dark today in protest of SOPA and PIPA, two bills currently on discussion by congress that would have a chilling effect on sites such as Hidden Track. While we’re ALL for copyright holders’ rights, these bills are a terrible way to protect those rights.
One site that went dark today was Phish.net, the premier Phish-related website on the internet. We spoke with Phish.net webmaster Adam Scheinberg about the impetus for this decision. “SOPA and PIPA are both poor, uninformed attempts to solve a real problem with an unnecessarily wide solution,” Adam told us. He went on to say, “Under both of these bills, a website could be shut down merely by claiming copyright infringement. On both Phish.net and YEMBlog, if someone merely embedded a video that was found to be infringing, the whole site could be taken down without notice or appeal.”
Adam continued on about the repercussions if both bills passed through Senate, “What’s worse is that it’s done by modifying the DNS system, which is core to the foundation of the Internet. If American laws seek to govern a borderless internet, it will splinter the internet itself, and I don’t think it’s dramatic to say it will change the evolution of technology and information dissemination. American sites will move oversees, but Americans still won’t have access to the content. The only real winners here would be content police like the RIAA and the MPAA, and the elected officials who are sponsored and lobbied by them. I refute the argument that even cast and crew are better off with laws like SOPA and PIPA in place.”
Adam decided to take action, “I asked the team to black out Phish.net because our site is clearly a site that could be mis-targeted under these laws. We’ve never used Phish.net as a political platform before, but this is too important to ignore. If we can generate a few dozen phone calls, we’ve succeeded. Just this morning when I called my senators, I was pleased to hear they’d withdrawn support for PIPA.”
Scheinberg felt there has to be a better way to both gauge the effect of piracy and to fight it, “Ultimately, the problem may be real, but no one has ever demonstrated a sound way to measure the impact of ‘piracy’ (a movie downloaded does not necessarily equal a lost customer) and no one has yet suggested an alternative that is good for ‘the people.'” Phish.net will return tomorrow and we’re thankful for the lead Adam has taken in drawing attention to a pair of bills that could bring an end to Hidden Track and millions of other websites.