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The next SOPA

Every few years, the MPAA’s lobbying power, rhetoric, and immense campaign contributions succeed in purchasing a bill in Congress to advance their agenda in a way that’s hostile to the technology industry and consumers.

Their bills have had mixed success and usually die before being brought to a vote, but SOPA and PIPA came frighteningly close to becoming law. The internet-wide protest this week seems to have stalled their progress and probably killed them for now.

But what will happen when the MPAA buys the next SOPA? We can’t protest every similar bill with the same force. Eventually, our audiences will tire of calling their senators for whatever we’re asking them to protest this time.

Eventually, we will lose.

Such ridiculous, destructive bills should never even pass committee review, but we’re not addressing the real problem: the MPAA’s buying power in Congress. This is a campaign finance problem.

We can attack this by aggressively supporting campaign finance reform to reduce the role of big money in U.S. policy. This is the goal of groups such as United Republic and Rootstrikers.

It’s also worth reconsidering our support of the MPAA. The MPAA is a hate-sink, a front to protect its members from negative PR. But unlike the similarly purposed Lodsys (and many others), it’s easy to see who the MPAA represents: Disney, Sony Pictures, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Brothers. (Essentially, all of the major movie studios.)

The MPAA studios hate us. They hate us with region locks and unskippable screens and encryption and criminalization of fair use. They see us as stupid eyeballs with wallets, and they are entitled to a constant stream of our money. They despise us, and they certainly don’t respect us.

Yet when we watch their movies, we support them.

Even if we don’t watch their movies in a theater or buy their plastic discs of hostility, we’re still supporting them. If we watch their movies on Netflix or other flat-rate streaming or rental services, the service effectively pays them on our behalf next time they negotiate the rights or buy another disc. And if we pirate their movies, we’re contributing to the statistics that help them convince Congress that these destructive laws are necessary.

They use our support to buy these laws.

So maybe, instead of waiting for the MPAA’s next law and changing our Twitter avatars for a few days in protest, it would be more productive to significantly reduce or eliminate our support of the MPAA member companies starting today, and start supporting campaign finance reform.

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