|The Lone Gunmen are the property of the|
I have never considered the possibility that The Squealing Nerd might not be here tomorrow.
I have never really had to consider that. Imagine now, though, the fear, the palpable fear, I'm feeling now as I sit here and write to you about that all-too feasible future. Imagine with me, if you will, a world where we could not sit all together on the Internet and look at Doctor Who pictures on our brethren blog sites because those pictures don't belong to us and therefore we have no right to them, even if we cite those sources. Imagine not being able to share our opinions on copy-righted, or written, material because we might be caught in the act of linking a web source that is not sanctioned by the rights holders. Imagine sites like Tor.com, YouTube, Facebook and others being gone forever because occasionally we link a video here, an image there, and share fun facts with each other that do not belong to us. A valuable tool for networking fans is about to be obliterated thanks to the Stop Online Piracy Act, an act that looks every day like it might pass because of the ignorance of those voting on it. The entertainment industry's money lines their pockets, and so many of us are about to be out of a job. Along with it could go webcomics and self-publication, sort of like some of the things I've done here. Webcomics such as The Girls Next Door who feature copy-righted characters and anything having to do with Blizzard Entertainment, who at any moment could decide that fan art is costing them profits, and could ask the government to terminate any websites featuring fan art, comics, reviews and screen-shots taken of people who pay for their games (I very much doubt that will happen, as Blizzard knows that their fans are their biggest source of income and that to alienate those fans would violate the first rule of marketing).
Speaking of which...
The First Rule of Marketing: Never Alienate a Target Audience. Ever.
Anyone who knows anything about marketing and self-promotion knows that the last thing a company should ever want to do is alienate the people who might purchase their products. Tattoo artists do it all time because its a seller's market, and if you ask me, they really shouldn't--I apologize in advance if any tattoo artist has ever lost money from me because they ran me off for something as stupid as being female (and if you think I'm kidding, you've never met a deusch tattoo artist). If the entertainment industry thinks that by shutting down sites like The Squealing Nerd will boost revenue because people will be forced to buy a rights holder's product to experience it will be grossly mistaken. According to other bloggers, namely Paul Tassi over at Unreality--who wrote his opinion in Forbes on Friday--there is no guarantee that rights holders will suddenly and magically be able to recoup supposed losses because we as consumers no longer have access to copy-righted material online. That simply isn't true. In fact, its the exact opposite. The first thing I'm going to do if I feel threatened is quit buying a product.
I'm a slave to market research, but I also tend to be militantly opposed to bad business acts. I don't buy from Amazon directly because they are killing local book stores. I shop at Wal-Mart, but not because I like to, or because I think a company who exploits their consumers and employees should be supported, but because dammit, sometimes I need a pair of jeans, a video game and food all at the same time. Big entertainment companies think that stamping out those of us that share information that can be publicly accessed will protect their profits. They should here and now be properly disillusioned of that notion. I don't own a television. If I cannot stream something on Netflix because its copy-righted material--no matter how much its being paid for--I will simply stop watching whatever it was I was watching. I'm not attached to my shows at the hip. I do steal popular music because I do not buy popular music. Quite frankly, it sucks. I do not steal video games because of the many that I can play online, and there's plenty of games out there that don't require that. If I cannot write what I want to write online, I will stop using that medium. I will publish in print or as a subsidiary of print media. Might cost me a little more, but MLA, Chicago, and APA standards of citation already protect publishers from copy-right infringement (or plagiarism as its known in this setting). Want to keep us from stealing your property? Make it more affordable. Make digital television affordable for everyone. Stop gouging us on the cost of movie tickets at the theater. Force publishers to allow you to keep part of the rights to your intellectual property. Make Charles Band pay his people!
There are any number of things the entertainment industry can do to accomplish their goals without infringing on the constitutional rights of users and consumers to link material that chances are most viewers have already paid for. If Michael Moorcock wants me to remove all the posts about Elric, all he has to do is ask. If John Picacio doesn't like that I've used his images--with citation--all he has to do is give the word and I'll remove it. That does not mean that I won't buy--or haven't already bought--their works. I do not torrent or steal movies and music from artists because I don't think I'd like it very much if someone was stealing from me. How would you like it if you wrote something, published it online, then found someone on another site passing off your work as their own? Not very much, I'm sure, so why would an artist steal from another artist? Fortunately, I would never pass off a character like Elric as my own, or say that a John Picacio image is my own artwork. First of all, I'd be found out as a liar, and second of all, I have too much respect for artists to steal their work, and hopefully others will feel the same way about my stuff one day.
Conclusion: The Inevitable End
I wish all of this would blow over. I wish I could continue to sit in blissful oblivion about this, and never question the government's decision to pass this law, that everyone is overreacting, but that would undermine what I know in the marrow of my bones. The time of the Internet as we know it is at an end. Soon, we'll be using the Internet to shop on and check email, but that's all it will be good for. So much for networking. I guess now is the right time to start up that book club I've been meaning to moderate. I can only hope that those in favor of the bill will be quickly educated on the lack of constitutional propriety and put an end to it, and that those opposed to it will prevail, and if it is passed, perhaps it will be repealed. If this is not the case, another vital part of our economy will be gone.
Also, you can see a copy of the letter I sent to my congressional representatives here
In the event that the entertainment industry can't get the Stop Online Piracy Act passed, they should probably go Occupy the Internet. According to social networking sites, #Occupying is trending right now.
Prince Elric has is own Facebook page now. Go like him, because he's really interesting.