I’m sure most of you are familiar with most, if not all, of the recent copyright laws that are popping up. How does this affect the green community? I am not an expert on any of these topics, far from it. Please consider this piece an opinion of a layman. Before we address the main issue of this discussion, let’s take a step back and look at the individual pieces of this massive puzzle. The first things we need to look at are the bills themselves. Let’s take a quick recap of what they are and what they do:
- SOPA is the “Stop Online Piracy Act”, which was sponsored in Congress by Rep. Lamar Smith.
- PIPA is the “Protect Intellectual Property Act”, which is basically the same as SOPA, but written for the Senate. It was sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy.
- ACTA is the “Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement” is a law that was drafted by multiple countries to supposedly stem the flow of “counterfeit” products. Duh.
So what do these guys do? Well, generally speaking, they force us to hand over the keys to the kingdom and the castle: we basically will NOT have freedom of speech. How, you ask? I won’t go into much detail, but by passing these bills into law, we hand over control of most information to private companies. Let’s give a simple example: I, JM Ruiz, am a member of the GreenJoyment team created an editiorial piece on why I hate the Twilight series and posted it on this website. The copyright holders of the Twilight series decide that we are a credible threat on their sparkly vampire empire, and they decide to set their fluffy hounds on us. But here’s where SOPA/PIPA/ACTA and any other laws like it might bite deep into real flesh: They won’t just take down the editorial piece, they’ll take down the entire site, regardless of whether or not we actually infringed on any rights. It is THAT LETHAL.
Now we’re done with the wide and broad measure of our legal recap, let’s move on to another piece of the puzzle. The propagation of the environmental movement thanks to leaps and bounds in technology.
Imagine if the internet never existed. Sustainability and green lifestyles would take a significantly longer period of time to spread. Important issues such as gross misuse of our resources might be easily covered up thanks to the bottleneck of information. The development of applied sciences has shrunk the world, where a person can converse with another person who is exactly on the other side of the planet instantly. Communications have been instrumental in the propagation and massive spread of the green movement. In the past, when a person stated they were pro-environment, the image that would immediately pop into a person’s head would be a hippy. A greenie would always be a hardcore person which was a part of a very selective niche which was very hard to penetrate due to various factors. Everything has changed thanks to the development in communications technology. A regular house-wife in the Great Mid-West would also have the access to the same information with that of a woman who lived in New York City.
What made the green movement blossom is being threatened by a system that is hard to fight. It’s like the quintessential David vs. Goliath fight. The technologies that support and ultimately spread the green movement depend on the free flow of information, ideas, and thoughts between people. People are more open to sharing their ideas and thoughts if they believe that they will not be punished and ridiculed for those same ideas especially if they are provided a mask of anonymity and/or privacy to hide behind. But these copyright laws are threatening that.
If these laws enter law, do you think all the independent websites (Such as GreenJoyment, and we’re very thankful for the visitors of the site. Thanks!) can compete with large conglomerates who hold billions of dollars worth of intellectual property? A single video uploaded to the site which has references a copyright then BAM! We’re gone. Off the air. Kicked the bucket. Bought the farm. Food for worms. Total power would be given to the big corporations, where they can choke the flow of information then charge exorbitant amounts of money to use these royalties.
A possible picture of what the future might look like if these laws are passed could be like the Disney Pixar Film “Wall-E” wherein the Mega Corporations have taken hold and become the governments themselves, where profits dictate their actions, and the people kept blind, and ignorant, which has led to the earth becoming a barren wasteland where life is no longer possible. Perhaps this could be an exaggeration, but the slope is slippery and these laws are the first step in that grim direction.
SOPA/PIPA are AMERICAN laws which affect the ENTIRE world, and let me tell you, most of the biggest websites and servers are located in the United States. These two bills have been pulled from the Senate and Congress by their sponsors but ACTA still remains. We can’t also guarantee that they may be resubmitted during a more “appropriate” time when they have a larger chance to get passed. We also cannot bypass the benefits that these laws provide, but the benefits must be disregarded if they come at costs too high to bear.
I personally think that the environment is freedom incarnate, and anything that threatens freedom also threatens the environment. We let corporations and companies control us, but the information superhighway has emancipated us from these bonds. We have become empowered thanks to the ease in communication and the availability of information. We may have taken that for granted, but remember: Information and Knowledge is power. Don’t let them take away the power, which ultimately empowers us to be who we truly are: GREEN.