SOPA: Get over it old man, I’m not paying for cable.

01/18/2012

Unfortunately, I spent the bulk of my time over the holidays secretly indulging in gluttonous amounts of TV watching. I procrastinated on all the real work I’m now scrambling to get done for the sake of Teen Mom, Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I watched all four Netflix seasons of Breaking Bad and then, when I just had to know if Walter White was really actually going to die, I was able to skip straight to the season airing now. Then I watched every episode in existence of the British E4 hit Misfits and Showtime’s Californication.

I don’t own a TV.

I illegally streamed most of these shows through TV Blinkx, an aggregator site that links to other piracy sites for free programming. The picture quality is low but there are no commercials, they load fast even on slow connections, and most importantly you can watch the current season of whatever is on air now for free without having to pay a cable bill.

Time well spent.

Next week Congress will vote on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The bill will force websites large and small to stop advertising with or taking paid advertisements from sites like TV Blinkx in addition to having a regulatory committee to seek out internet piracy and remove violators from the web.

I get it, no one likes to work for free, but I work for free all the time. Hell–I am working for free right now. Almost everyone I know is working multiple jobs, many of them unpaid because they believe either in their talent or working towards a shared goal worthy of volunteer time, effort, and creativity. That is the nature of creative work, you have to really work hard for little reward to “make it” because you are selling an intangible good.

“Intellectual property is intangible, but the most important part of making a profit off of artistic creativity is to remember that the biggest asset in art is that it isn’t property, it is culture meant to be shared and enjoyed and there are other ways of monetizing its production other than gouging consumers. “

In a time of fast-paced technological advances, it is more efficient for these companies to invest their time and money into evolving with new technology to get ahead of the potential loss in revenue caused by foolishly clinging to their old and comfortable business models. Rather than throwing money into unpopular campaigns that are demonized by freedom-loving internet purists they should instead invest that time and those resources to go the route of Hulu, Spotify and Pandora– which offer free-high quality content rife with advertisements tailored to target the individual watching them. They both also offer premium packages that become increasingly essential as the average user becomes more dependent on it.

Proponents of SOPA include the villainous megacorporations Wal-Mart, Dow Chemicals, Rupert Murdoch, News Corp, Comcast, Nike, Monster Cable, Sony, and a couple of old tech-unsavvy Republican congressman just dying to regulate the hell out of the only purely free market that really exists in America today (besides banking).

Opponents of the bill not only have a much hipper forward-thinking reputation than this old band of confuddled cronies. They include Google, Craigslist, Reddit, Wikipedia, Facebook, Linkedin, Etsy, Zynga and Republican candidate Ron Paul. Many of these sites will go or already are “dark,” today in protest, notably Wikipedia and Craigslist. 5,000 sites in total will be protesting in some way or another tomorrow.

The difference between these groups: the proponents make their millions making shiesty backdoor deals with congressman and each other. The opponents make their millions by inventing new technological mediums that are not only reasonably priced but cool.

Intellectual property is intangible, but the most important part of making a profit off of artistic creativity is to remember that the biggest asset in art is that it isn’t property, it is culture meant to be shared and enjoyed and there are other ways of monetizing its production other than gouging consumers.

When was the last time you paid $16 for a CD? Have you gone to the movies lately and paid more than you would pay for the DVD to get in?

Take the band Radiohead, who have one of the largest and most dedicated international fan bases that literally spans generations. Their last few albums (composed and produced without a record deal) have been released free of charge online with an option to donate what you think its worth or pay for bonus tracks and box sets. With the release of In Rainbows, Radiohead averaged $5 a digital album in donations, more than they would have made with a record deal.

Immortal Technique, an underground hip-hop artist, released his most recent album The Martyr for free online using Twitter as his main avenue of promotion. The album was downloaded 300,000 times in just the first weekend, crashing the site. He now has more fans than ever and has been selling out show after show every in city he hits.

Taking down these sites is equivalent to censoring free speech. You can buy Congress but you can’t just sue your way out of your outdated business models. As long as you behave like you are irrelevantly uncool you will be.

Please support the forward-thinking innovators who are opposing the bill, propelling us into the future and occupying the internet today. Click here to join the strike.

by Angela Bacca