My Opinion on SOPA

16 Dec

I’m sure many people have blogged about this and taken action to voice their opinion to their representatives and all…but I haven’t yet. Perhaps it’s because it’s such a ridiculous proposition that there is no way it could be passed, but at the same time…

Apparently SOPA is supposed to give the government the ability to shut down sites which contain or promote third party “pirated” content. That by itself is fine, but I don’t think those people really understand why that happens in the first place. Let’s use music as the example, since that’s one of the things most “pirated” (another would be video):

Let’s say I am searching on Google for information on becoming a translator. I look through some things and then I come down to a blog post that was indexed to match this search term of mine. It says that a subtitle group is looking for translators. I click to that page and go to the SimpleSubs page that is linked from there, because they are the ones looking for translators. I ask to join, and I am accepted.
My first translation project for SS is S/mileage’s song “Suki-chan”, so what do I need to do? Well, first, since I have never heard this song before, I will have to find it. And where do I do that? I don’t live in Japan, so I haven’t seen the CD in any store, nor seen advertisements on TV. So I go to Youtube, where someone has uploaded the promotional video for that song. Aha! Now I know what the song sounds like. Next, I need the lyrics for the song so I can make sure I’m translating the right words. Again, I have no CD of this song. What do I do? I go to projecthello.com, where they have the S-JIS (actual Japanese lyrics) and the romaji lyrics for the song. Fantastic! Now I can translate.

Through SS, I learn of other groups and discover that S/mileage is a part of Hello!Project, so I want to listen to other groups’ songs. How do I do that? Remember, I don’t have any of their CDs so I can’t pop one into my boombox or computer. None of my “real life” friends have any of these CDs; I can’t borrow one…it’s not on iTunes. I go to…that’s right, YOUTUBE. Thanks to the fans who want to share the Hello!Project music, there are plenty of PVs I can watch. I decide to be a fan and guess what? I go to ITUNES and BUY the music.

But iTunes doesn’t have all of their music, and buying CDs from overseas costs a lot. So for songs I can’t get…what am I supposed to do? I don’t want to rip Youtube videos. I just want the songs. So I search for the songs on fileshare websites and I will generally find some of them.

As you probably guessed, this is a true story. A person is introduced to the artist via a website that contains third-party content. That person networks with that website and other sharing websites (blogs, etc.) and finally goes to iTunes to buy music from the artist they like. If iTunes doesn’t have all of the music they’re looking for, what are they supposed to do? They could buy the CD and have it shipped overseas, or save money and do a download. OR, iTunes could just have all the songs and then there wouldn’t be a need to do such a download.

Now let’s see how this would go with SOPA.

First, the person searches on Google. Well, since SOPA kills sites with third-party content, the blog on which I found the ad calling for translators would not exist, and neither would the website SimpleSubs, which was the one looking for translators.
Let’s say I managed to find something similar, or that SOPA hadn’t reached those two sites yet. My first project is S/mileage’s song “Suki-chan”. I haven’t heard it before. So I go to Youtube. Well, since SOPA kills sites with third-party content, with SOPA, Youtube would be dissolved. So I wouldn’t find the song. And I would say, “Well, let me try with the lyrics anyway.”
So I go to projecthello.com. But since this site contains lyrics for third-party artists, it wouldn’t exist thanks to SOPA.
The end result? I wouldn’t be able to discover Hello!Project through this method, especially if the first site I found on Google didn’t exist due to SOPA. Which means I wouldn’t buy their music on iTunes. Which means all the other fans who found H!P through Youtube and other websites with third-party content wouldn’t buy their music either, because they wouldn’t know them at all.
Result? Market suffers.

This goes the same for video. Buying DVDs of anime is great, but how do people find anime? Often it’s through fanart, videos on Youtube, or clips on some other site. Sometimes they will be introduced via ads, but it would only be for English dubs if on TV, and English manga if in print.
The market suffers if people can’t share their favorites online.

SOPA kills artist websites like DeviantART. Because fanart is literally art that depicts someone else’s characters/concepts in an original picture, SOPA would ban it, meaning that artists could no longer network by using their talents and sharing their favorites online. Series are often introduced to others via fanart. Without this, awareness decreases and the market suffers.

What about fans who create websites? Wikipedia pages? Blogs? Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook? Graphics designers who have website themes/templates featuring characters that don’t belong to them…if they get commissioned to do something like that, then they would suffer financially if SOPA shut their site down.

The real solution to piracy online is to fix the problems that create it. Provide the music in iTunes (or Amazon or whatever). Allow shipping discounts on overseas items so people like me won’t shy away going “It’s too expensive.” Provide more international options in the places that provide video (iTunes…). Recently I noticed that a Hello!Project PV is actually available for purchase on iTunes, and once I get a gift card, I am definitely buying it!

Notice this: when Hello!Project put member channels on Youtube (Morning Musume, C-ute, etc.) and began uploading the PVs and extra content, the number of ‘copy’ H!P PVs uploaded by fans decreased significantly, because there is no longer such a need for it. H!P has the right idea. When you simply provide the content people are looking for, they’re not going to try to pirate it to get it online. And I do not know of anyone who tries to sell these PVs other than H!P itself. I do not know of a single subtitle group that tries to sell its subtitled videos. For the most part, fans just want to talk about their favorites and share them with others. This proposed SOPA bill severely hinders that.

Don’t you dare put it through, government!!! Dx<

ANYWAY. The government should really stop worrying about the internet and worry more about the gazillions of money it is wasting on useless things. But then again, I'm sure the evil people who have infiltrated the government would love to see America keel over, wouldn't they?

But don't worry. We know what they're up to. And just read your history book–America doesn't like losing any part of its freedom. You'd better watch out, bad guys. If you push the people too far, you are going to be in some serious trouble.

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