Welcome From The Chief Editor (February 2012)

Phew! January was a whirlwind of activity.

Without much hesitation – if any at all – users, ISPs, webmasters, Internet search engines, and just about anybody else with an interest in maintaining a free and open Internet, rallied around the opposition to the SOPA and PIPA bills that were up for consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, respectively.

The fervor expressed against these two bills has, at least for now, made any support of such legislation a toxic topic among U.S. lawmakers – especially since 2012 is an election year. No U.S. lawmaker will even step near the topic. That’s how toxic it has become. Still, the MPAA, the RIAA and their puppet groups continue to look for a legislative solution to their perceived ills and trespasses, completely disregarding even the search for a technological solution or – heaven forbid – a fundamental change in their outdated business model.

SOPA and PIPA were defeated, this time around. Those who fought to keep the Internet open and free can breathe a collective sigh of relief – but then need to get right back on guard duty, since the threats to a free Internet seem to be coming as fast a bullets fired from a U.S. Civil War era Gatling gun.

Just one day after the successful “Internet Blackout Day” on January 18, 2012, where many sites went “dark” in protest of SOPA and PIPA and Internet users flooded the U.S. Congressional e-mail boxes with millions upon millions of letters and petitions opposing the two bills, the U.S. Department of Justice, coordinating with the governments and law enforcement agencies of other countries, took down the MegaUploads file sharing site. They cited that the operators of MegaUploads were guilty of copyright infringement on a massive scale. Naturally, this raises a very good and necessary question: “if they can do this, why do they need SOPA?”

Already, Spain has succumbed to to pressure from the U.S. to pass SOPA-like legislation, to help protect copyrighted works there. More recently, Irish lawmakers have sought to pass another SOPA-like act. All around the world, a free and open Internet is coming under attack. Without hesitation or doubt, those threats can be traced back to the MPAA and RIAA.

Both groups have a history of “crying wolf” whenever new technology is introduced or becomes popular. They claim that [insert new technology here] will destroy their markets. Yet, time after time, both groups have only seen their profits soar – which is exactly the same thing that is happening today. It’s not that they are afraid of their markets being destroyed. Rather, it’s just pure, unadulterated GREED that motivates these mongrels. They want to be able to extract every fraction of a cent out of those who do pay for the content they produce. Meanwhile, none of the laws that have been proposed will do much of anything to curb piracy, since it doesn’t address bit torrent file sharing, perhaps the most widespread way of distributing pirated content.

Of course, there is no regard whatsoever given to the millions and billions of legitimate files that are shared between users, both via http and bit torrent avenues. It’s a bit like saying, “well, this guy got killed by being hit in the head with a hammer, so let’s ban all hammers,” without regard to the fact that hammers also have a legitimate, non-lethal use.

A new threat to a free and open Internet is on the horizon, and it is called ACTA (don’t you just love all these acronyms?). It stands for Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, and you can get the full low-down by visiting the previous link to Wikipedia. Boy, is this one a winner – not! Basically, ACTA sets up a rogue international agency to “combat” counterfeiting and copyright infringement. As if none of the laws and measures already on the books don’t already address such deeds.

Until next month, I wish each of you peace, solitude, serenity and good health.

Remain vigilant against encroachment upon our free and open Internet. It IS under attack, and like never before!