The dinosaurs of the entertainment world (i.e., Hollywood movie studios and national music companies) have joined with the Business Software Alliance (which represents tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft, and Intel) to sponsor an insidious piece of legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
SOPA is now winding its way through the corrupt and brain-dead halls of Congress. If enacted, it could usher in an era of corporate Web censorship that some experts say would be as draconian as the state-sponsored censorship practiced in China.
Copyright infringement and piracy is a real problem that endangers the livelihood of many artists, writers, and musicians by cutting into their fairly earned royalties. It deserves a real solution. SOPA isn't it. Under the guise of protecting intellectual-property rights, which indeed can be put at risk by new technologies, the bill would, with no judicial review, create a blacklist of sites that would be barred from online search engines, ad servers, and other supports. It would also reverse current practice and allow sites that briefly and unknowingly hosted protected material to be sued, even if those sites acted responsibly in rectifying unintentional posting errors.
Not surprising, companies such as Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, and LinkedIn have banded together to stop this dangerous development.
Nonprofit Mozilla, which has dedicated itself to keeping the Web open and accessible to all, has also joined the fight. Its brief official statement reads: "Mozilla wants to ensure that this legislation does not jeopardize the foundational structure of the Internet." Fight the one percent who wish to strangle Internet access for the remaining 99 percent of us. Go to mozilla.org and enroll in the online campaign to short-circuit SOPA.
Over the past several days, often vicious and brutal police attacks were unleashed across the country upon peaceful Occupy protesters. The order to beat the Occupiers, the permission to mace or pepper-spray the protesters, came from the cops's political overlords, who dispatched their will with a sly wink or an imperceptible nod.
Billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg deserves to be given our Mayor Richard Daley Memorial Medal for vile and offensive police conduct by ranks under his command. (Named after the mayor of Chicago who unleashed a police riot upon the anti-war demonstrators protesting at the 1968 Democratic Convention, the distinction goes to political leaders who show real flair and cruelty in suppressing legitimate populist outrage and dissent.)
New York novelist Michael Greenberg, who clearly has spent much time among the Occupiers, has published what is perhaps the most thoughtful and complete account of the Zuccotti Park attack and its aftermath in the blog at the New York Review of Books. Read it at nyrb.com.
Most of the news pages of this issue of the Phoenix are taken up with our coast-to-coast reports on the attacks on Occupy. One startling conclusion shines clear in all of this coverage: if Occupy is as ineffectual as so many critics claim, why is the establishment so afraid? Why the blood? Why the clubs? Why the pepper spray?
It's because the organized political power structure is hanging on only by the tips of their well-manicured fingertips. In the immortal words of Jack Nicholson, they can't handle the truth. So they lash out. It's as simple as that.
WHAT DO YOU CALL SIX DEMOCRATS AND SIX REPUBLICANS WHO CANNOT AGREE ON A BUDGET COMPROMISE TO AVOID ANOTHER POTENTIAL FINANCIAL CALAMITY?