Stop SOPA and PIPA: Why Went Dark Today

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, the premier Phish-related website on the internet. We spoke with 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 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 because our site is clearly a site that could be mis-targeted under these laws. We’ve never used 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 Just this morning when I called my senators, I was pleased to hear they’d withdrawn support for PIPA.”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.'” 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.

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2 Responses

  1. Good interview, Scotty!

    One thing users of know is that we are already vigilant about enforcing copyright laws and protecting rightsholders. Our Terms of Use (ToU) prohibit posting copyrighted materials (like pirate links to soundboards, as opposed to band allowed audience recordings). We request (and receive) permission to sometimes reproduce Phish’s copyrighted photos and videos.

    Anyone who has tried to post links to copyrighted materials in the forum for instance knows that admins (and users) enforce the ToU.

    While we don’t think Phish would ride roughshod over ToU enforcement in a SOPA/PIPA world, the same cannot be said for many other corporations. We know the RIAA and MPAA have tried to sue individual users, sometimes children, over downloading pirate materials. In countries like China and Russia (as well as here with WikiLeaks), the copyright laws are sometimes used to quash political dissent, by forcing payment processors or advertisers not to use a site, or arresting dissidents who have unlicensed copies of Microsoft Word on their hard drives as a pretext.

    We already have tools to go after piracy, which is less of a problem anyway with subscription service models like iTunes, Spotify and Netflix. SOPA/PIPA is a sledgehammer approach to kill a fly, and anyone who thinks folks like the RIAA and MPAA should just be able to shut down entire websites on their say-so without notice and opportunity for the sites to respond is advocating for a world like George Orwell would have imagined in 1984.

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