Pinoy SOPA?

On January 18, 2012, the internet took a stand against SOPA and PIPA. Some websites shut themselves down while others decided to blot out their banners.The internet was united, it did not matter if you were American or not, all it mattered was that you were a citizen of the internet. Face it, America is being pushed by the big corporations, those who’ve already been blasted and fought against during the “Occupy” protests, to protect their assets. Thing is, those assets aren’t exactly theirs.

Those assets are websites that are completely independent with some not even under US jurisdiction. Under the SOPA act, they will be censored or at the most, taken down completely. People are mad because the US is overstepping its bounds, they’re pushing a bill that has effects on the entire internet, not just their country. They are giving power to the companies and allowing themselves the power to shut-down anything that seems to be infringing their copyrights.

I really would.

And now we want in. Only in the Philippines do people have the guts to propose a bill that has already become condemned and effectively stopped after a mass protest in other countries. This is not as simple as the RH Bill, a bill that doesn’t exactly shove condoms down your throat, because this “Pinoy SOPA” WILL shove itself down your throat.

http://www.interaksyon.com/article/22438/music-film-industries-lobby-for-ph-version-of-sopa

Have you read it? Good. Now please, pardon me while I punch the wall and slam my head on my keyboard.

They KNOW the state of Philippine piracy. They are AWARE about the problem. They are also aware that everyone will HATE them for it.

Chuaying said they are prepared for the public backlash should the bill bear fruit in Congress since there was no other means of curbing digital piracy in the Philippines.

I’m not congressman or a senator, but I do know enough to know that that is completely… well… Can I say it? Stupid. Only way? Teka, what every happened to the stalls selling DVDs? I’ve been offered DVDs on the sidewalk, in malls, and even in the street. In my car, I was offered the latest billboard hits, blockbuster hits and the dirtiest Pinoy porn I’ve ever seen. Now tell me, is the censoring of the internet GOING to stop them?

Whatever happened to burning or copying of the original copies? Whatever happened to bringing a digital camera to the theater? Has it ever occurred to them that, yes, there are file-sharing websites, but there ARE other ways? There are Chinese businessmen who can IMPORT them and there are lots of Pinoy Hackers that can simply use proxies to bypass the shutdown. My last article (Not sure if it’s going to be released soon, though) is all about the “More fun in the Philippines” thing. Guess how original THAT is. These people think and believe that SOPA is the only thing they CAN do to fight piracy.

These legislators are not just in the dark, they’re also shouting “LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU LA LA LA LA” so you can’t reason with them. They think that this losing battle against Piracy was caused by the internet, instead of the government’s inaction and corruption; their belief that this will and can stop piracy makes them forget that copying the SOPA for their own use will only make things harder for everyone.

If they’re painfully unaware about how piracy works, that means they should be the ones in court, not Corona. It only takes a few greased palms to smuggle and to get by without a major punishment. Does the clean-air act stop jeeps and trucks from smoke-belching? Does the MMDA have the power to clean up all the streets of Manila, the capital of (and the source of the name) Metro Manila? The thing is, the Philippines is corrupt and there are lots of ways to pirate, even without the internet. What would make them say and push for internet censorship and claim “This is the only way!” I believe that these people are trying to earn feathers in their collective caps and earn brownie points with the media, which, I should say, are run by corporations. I wonder if they have any stocks in them, because that would explain a lot more.

These guys are even resorting to the  “This will totally help the Philippines” defense by saying that it will help local talent and help the companies earn.

“Without protecting the rights of the composer and record companies, there will be no more music industry. Kasi wala nang mag-iinvest eh. Lahat ng mga gingawa mo, pinipirata. So who will be investing in discovering new talent, going to spend for the recording?” he said.

While I love OPM, there are some I can’t stand. There are gems, lots of great bands and artists like “Parokya ni Edgar” and “Francis Magalona” but I don’t pirate their music. They’re not that in demand with most file-sharing sites and their music is mostly available on Youtube. Youtube isn’t exactly a medium for piracy since anyone, and I mean ANYONE, can just report it as copyright infringement WITHOUT the forced censorship.

Also, if there was no more music, then what will we pirate? There are people who buy the records they do like, while others choose not to since they don’t have enough money. In my opinion, if they really want to earn, there’s a simple thing to do: Make stuff that people actually want. Not everyone pirates, but even if I did have the money, I won’t buy anything. I simply don’t like all the music. There are some stuff that I like, but those are old. Most of the new songs just don’t cater to me, while the songs I hear on the radio seem to be the same thing, and if not, made by foreign artists.

I don’t want to listen to an acoustic cover of Poker Face, nor do I want to listen to another actor sing as if that person’s forte was also singing (which really, it isn’t. Some should just stick to acting). I’m sure that most of you guys would disagree on this point, so I’ll try on another point.

Have you ever played those old Pinoy games? I think it’s called “Anito” or something. I know it had lots of bad reviews due to the fact that everyone said it was a rip-off of “Diablo.” Then there’s another one, called “Terra Wars” that’s been reviewed on Youtube and called a “game with absolutely no plot other than shoot the aliens.” Now tell me, would you invest if the output was bad to begin with? The game was said to be so bad, we actually had to advertise it as Pinoy-made just to increase sales and spread hype. Sometimes, the problem isn’t piracy, but quality. You can’t say “I failed the test because my teacher is a jerk.” You have to say “I failed the test since I didn’t study.”

While there are Filipinos with bad works, there are always Filipinos who have created masterpieces. Taking everything else aside, the main function of SOPA is to fight against piracy to protect these Filipinos. But just like I already said, does that mean we have to resort to SOPA or a SOPA copy?

The executive said they are pushing for a law that would encompass all kinds of digital content–whether music, movie or computer software.

That is actually incredibly exploitable. The reason why SOPA is so hated is because it gave companies the power to report something as stolen or copy-righted. The broad definitions and terms should not just be made more specific, but should also make sure that those who are shut-down actually deserve it. You have to have proof, but in our society, there are lots of people who are blasted even without proof. Erap blamed his impeachment on a massive conspiracy and how people didn’t take his court case seriously. Corona claims that the impeachment trial was orchestrated by Aquino who wants him down, because, as we all know, Aquino is ridding himself of people who are getting in his way.

Now, imagine the internet in the Philippines with SOPA.

Anything can be taken down just because. They can claim copy-right infringement, but you can easily abuse that. Definitely Filipino can be taken down for someone posting something negative (like this) just as easily as taking it down for someone posting a music video. Those with DeviantArt accounts can also be taken down for drawing a character or making a fan-fic. Bronies (Fans of My Little Pony who are famous for the large amount of fan-fics, fan-art, and fan-made music) fear that their online communities will be shut-down just because they draw cartoons.

Oh the horror. This image will certainly harm the profits of TopDraw and Hasbro! (image from dignifiedjustice.deviantart.com)

But there’s also something else. We can’t explicitly shut-down websites that aren’t based here (because we’re the PHILIPPINES, for Christ’s sake) but we can register complaints that can result in them being shut-down. Sites that are based here however, will just be shut-down.

As I said before, if we live in a country where the police have been paid to destroy evidence, where the courts are run by public opinion, where the human rights is ignored for the sake of Religion and where anyone with a few hundred pesos can get out of a small crime, does the censoring and the banning of websites seem as if it will be the promised cure they claim it to be? What if they make a “task-force” that’s just as corrupt as all the others?

You’re neighbor can watch pirated My Little Pony all he wants, but you can’t even access the Wikipedia page of the same show. What if this becomes another way to get rid of government officials or their enemies? Suppose I write something that goes against the government and I plan to expose the evidence to the entire world. At that moment, I get SOPA’d and my internet is cut. My house is raided and I get arrested for something they can easily plant with a USB device. Now think of that happening to journalists or the last few honest politicians left.

We’re giving them the power to choose what we can or can’t see, and from the way that this country is run, I bet we’ll lose a lot of things. What if the Church asks that all those secular or atheism websites like Filipino Freethinkers to be shut-down. The Congress and the Senate need the votes for re-election and with their new power, why not? So they just add something to the bill that makes “free-speech” a luxury. Soon, AP and GRP are blocked, and then so is DF.

But maybe I’m too dramatic. But am I?What if Charice was never found? Who is losing money there? It wouldn’t just be her going to another country to be discovered, but she would also most probably go viral in other countries first due to the restrictions and then what do we lose? It won’t just be Charice, but all those other Filipino Youtube celebrities as well. You can be a target too, so you have to either live clean and paranoid or just abandon then now Facebook and Wikipedia-less (or at least censored) internet.

This is currently only a proposed bill that they can still change, but the mere fact that their goal is something similar or even a direct copy of SOPA makes me shudder. Even if it is just a proposal, it’s something that can eventually turn into an ugly beast. What ticks me off is that our government is actually thinking about doing something that we all know shouldn’t be done. Whether or not you’re a fan of my posts, I think we can all agree on this, not just as Filipinos, but as netizens.

Whether you’re a writer, a moderator, or just a visitor of this site, you have just enough right to the internet as everyone else. The UN has already made the internet a right, and our country’s insistence on censorship reminds me of 1984’s Oceania or our very own frenemy, China. If  it turns out that they’re serious in considering SOPA, then I’ve hoped I’ve armed you with the knowledge necessary to fight this bill, because my friends, we’re going to war.

About Linewave

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