Internet Freedom Versus Online Piracy
By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.
[02/04/2012 Note: I have decided to re-write this particular essay, retaining the philosophy but omitting the specific references to SOPA and PIPA due to the fact that I am not a lawyer and I do not understand the intricacies of how one law relates to another in the legal code. I am against SOPA and PIPA as written from my brief investigation into them because they do not state the minimal standard of violation that would be prosecuted and because there are no specified legal remedies or punishments for violations of the court orders to delist a foreign website. I think these would set a very bad precedent being non-objective law on the internet.]
American’s fought The American Revolutionary War to form a government that would protect free speech rather than abrogate it. This means that the US Government must keep its hands off any privately owned material presented in any material form by an author, whether the author makes it public or not. And it also means that the government must protect said speech from those who would steal it and present it as their own creations. This means that the US Government, in its effort to protect free speech, must stop on-line piracy – the willful posting of material that is not owned by the person posting it (aside from “fair use” standards of small portions). It goes both ways – the individual has the right to speak his mind and a right to keep what is his, and the American government must protect both the author and the authorship / ownership of that product.
The internet is a bastion of free speech, and needs to remain so, as it is the right of every man to speak his own mind, regardless of who doesn’t like it – including the government. However, speaking your own mind does not mean redistributing material that is not yours and that you have no permission to redistribute. And something has to be done about that practice on the internet. But, in order to remain moral, regarding the internet piracy proliferation, a means must be found that punishes the thieves while protecting the innocent. And government control of the internet is not the way to do that. Every effort must be made to keep the internet free of government intrusion, except insofar as intellectual property rights and other applications of individual rights are protected by the necessity of government force against the violators. Go after the pirates, yes, but leave the rest of us alone!
When piracy was on the rise on the high seas, it was not fought by shutting down the shipping lanes – the pirates were punished. And the shipping lanes were thus free. Similarly, the internet must remain free for the commerce of the human mind to continue.