SOPA isn’t dead. Far from it.

The people behind that bill and a host of other bills over the years are able to bring that bill, or its equivalent, back as many times as they please, until they have a legislature and president willing to pass it and sign it.

SOPA primarily is supported by money, but it is primarily only opposed by speech.

Money buys votes, essentially. It buys the votes of the legislature, because money buys your vote.

In nine out of ten USA senatorial or congressional races, the candidate with the largest campaign fund wins. This is not because all that campaigning changes the minds of voters, but because it increases the turnout of voters aligned with the position on polling day.

Therefore in all but the most exceptional cases, whichever candidate has the most money to spend on their campaign wins the election.

Winners of Senate seats currently spend roughly eight million dollars in campaign funds for the win.

For a 312 week term, that means that a US Senator must generate a net profit in campaign funds of a little over $25,000 per week, for every week in office. If special-interests and contributors don’t provide you with enough funds, you are statistically unlikely to win reelection, even if you cure cancer in your spare time. You may as well find another job. Maybe as a lobbyist.

Money talks. It talks real loud.

Now, recently, there were a couple of forms of activism about SOPA. A whole bunch of people put a marker on their social media profiles. There’s little sign that this made a damn bit of difference. Neither your Senator nor your Congressman likely ever sees your social media profile – and probably hardly any of anyone else’s.

The total number of profiles changed by this so-called “slacktivism” amounted to roughly 0.028% of the United States population. Fewer, if you count the number of slacktivist participants from the USA.

However, on the day that Web-sites world-wide went dark in opposition to SOPA, the game changed. That wasn’t opposition with speech – it was opposition with money. People willingly sacrificing their profits, services and products to oppose the bill, and directing people to contact their legislative representatives.

And people did.

How many times in the past decade has your legislative representative heard from any of the people she represents? Heck, if porn sites had gone offline for the day, the phones would still be ringing on the Hill, and US Postal Service workers would be risking their health lugging overstuffed mailbags.

There was pretty much no shift in legislative support or opposition for SOPA until sites started blacking out and phone calls and emails started arriving on the Hill.

Now, I’ve talked very little about the content of SOPA. The “Stop Online Piracy Act” appears to have very little to actually do with online piracy, and even less with stopping it.

What it does appear to do is give “Old Media” a nice big stick with which to turn “New Media” into a cowed and profitable vassalage, and little else.

Now if there was a bill that really managed to seriously cut into the big-money piracy such as that from the CRIA or the so-called “Hollywood Accounting” indulged in by MPAA members, that would certainly be something to get behind.

SOPA, or something only barely distinguishable from it, will come back again and again. The money is there, and the members of the legislature cannot live without it to buy your votes. The MPAA publicly and directly threatened to cut off their not-inconsiderable donations to candidates who do not dance to the MPAA’s tune. That’s no trivial threat – losing that money can put many members of the legislature on the unemployment line come the next election.

Oh, and for those of you who do not remember The Golden Rule of Arts and Sciences, for which this post is headlined, it is: “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

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Categories: Culture, Opinion.



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