If you have been paying any attention to the media in the last few months, you may have heard some discussion about the phrase "SOPA".
SOPA stands for "Stop Online Piracy Act". It is attempt by the entertainment industry to increase the power of government to control and stop piracy of intellectual property. Critics were vocal about the overreach of the U.S. Government and the private entertainment industry using force to shut down search engines and foreign websites for possible copyright infringement. In fact, over 7,000 popular media websites "went black" or turned their pages off for a day to protest this potential legislation coming out of Washington D.C.
My opponent in the upcoming election, Congressman Adam Schiff, supports SOPA.
I don't. Here is why Schiff is wrong....
1) No private industry has the right to trample on the First Amendment in order to protect their profits.
As a member of the Screen Actors Guild, I clearly understand the need for the entertainment industry to protect their intellectual property. It is their life blood and keeps their corporations alive. However, SOPA goes too far in basically using the U.S. Government as a collection agency. It is an improper use of force by our government in order to protect the profit of a private corporation. No government should support the blocking of search engines or the shutting down of websites due to a dispute over property rights. There are courts and lawyers to sort these things out...yes...even if the websites are in foreign countries. Media corporations have the funds to fight legal battles outside of the United States, and should do so if they believe it is in their best interests.
The irrational fear that they might be losing out on money is not a legitimate reason to trample on the First Amendment.
2) Allowing the Entertainment Industry and the Federal Government to define "piracy" (a vague term) however they wish is a dangerous precedent with far-reaching implications.
If any of you saw the popular and viral "Wedding Dance video" on YouTube, you might want to think twice about this legislation. In the video, the wedding party is clearly dancing to a copyrighted performance of R&B singer Chris Brown. Theoretically, under SOPA, RCA/Jive Records could demand that YouTube delete that video, even though the 73 million hits the video experienced probably did the company no financial harm.
If you don't have a problem with this.... you should.
3) Theft and loss are a natural part of the business cycle. The Entertainment Industry is entitled to no more legal protection than any other corporation.
Every massive corporation has problems with theft and loss. Best Buy, Target, McDonalds, Starbucks...everyone has to deal with it.
But Target has no right to use Federal Agents to kick in your door in search of missing bottles of Tide Detergent. Target accepts that a small percentage of their merchandise will be lost, damaged, or stolen. It is part of the cost of doing business.
The Entertainment Industry has no right to use the Federal Government to destroy personal freedom and international internet communications in the overzealous pursuit of their protection of their private profits.
4) Adam Schiff is morally compromised on this issue.
As you can see from the graphic above, Adam Schiff accepts large financial donations from Big Media Corporations who would love to control all inter-personal communications in the United States. However, that doesn't necessarily make it a good idea.
Because he accepts large amounts of campaign money from the entertainment industry, Schiff creates the appearance of having his vote in Congress being "for sale" to the highest bidder.
Schiffs financial stake in this vote makes his actions appear unseemly at best, and possibly downright devious and corrupt at worst.
Schiff should recuse himself from issues like this where he or his donors stand to personally benefit from this legislation.
If you would like to contact Congressman Adam Schiff and explain this issue to him, his office number in Pasadena is (626) 304-2727.