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Thursday, 19 January 2012

On your Sopa box

So yesterday a whole lot of fairly useful websites went black in protest against some US legislation that was never going to happen.

The big fuss, which none of the objectors really seems to be able to get their heads around and explain satisfactorily is that hte US intends to act against websites that link to websites handing out copyright material.

In as far as it goes I have no objection to that.  If a bunch of what in my younger days we would call "grown-ups" decide that they can usefully spend their days singing, writing, or prancing about in front of a camera and a whole bunch of other people think they can take their output and sell it, then I have no problems either about them doing so or being able to protect their interests.

Oh but this is wrong say the protesters.  This could be the death of free speech as Big Media goes around shutting sites down.

Which is basically nonsense.  First of all complainants have to get a court order (i.e. a judge has to make a decision in their favour based on evidence) and then they are potentially liable for damages if they make a false accusation.

Sure enough it doesn't stop firms with very deep pockets making frivolous claims, but Apple have been trying to tie their competition in knots that way for years, and the fact that the US is trying to reach overseas, and potentially drag foreign companies into US law.  Well there is nothing new in that.  Ask the NatWest 3 who were extradited to the US without a shred of evidence being produced and at their extradition hearing were coerced into accepting a guilty plea bargain making a rational decision on probabilities and pay-offs including the non-refundable cost of defence in the US court system.

Which is all typical of the young woolly liberal protesters today (think Occupy LSX) - wrong target and wrong form of protest.  The only people inconvenienced by their protest were their website users.  The targets of their protest didn't see them and frankly didn't care.

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