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TOP 10: Reasons to Support SOPA

It's January 18, 2012, and before you rush off to Wikipedia to silently confirm for yourself whether or not today is Kevin Costner's birthday (hint: it is, and the Hallmark card store does rush deliveries,) let me remind you that today is the day of the 2012 Internet blackout in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act, a hotly contested bill before the United States House of Representatives that has the entire Internet in something of an uproar. Opponents of the bill say that it gives the government free rein to censor the Internet without due process, essentially cracking down on free speech and right-of-use to materials on the Internet in the name of copyright protection. Many sites across the Internet, including renowned timesink Wikipedia, have voluntarily shutdown operations for the day, essentially staging a digital protest against the bill.

You'll note, of course, that NODJ is still online. This is not merely due to the fact that our viewership is so low that we somehow consume negative quantities of bandwidth, although we appreciate the monthly check for $4 and change that our hosting service sends to Murdernator's post office box. No, dear reader, our site is still online because we at the Not Our Day Job offices stand firmly in support of SOPA and the changes to the 'net that it heralds. It would be lazy of me to make such an outrageous claim and not provide a reason or two why we've taken such a bold, contraversial stance. Fortunately, I have not only one reason, I have ten, and making them eminently list-worthy.

#10 - Copyright Protection for Music

The object of SOPA is, first and foremost, to protect the rights of those whose copyrights are being infringed. While the rights of singers, songwriters, composers, and other musicians must be protected in order to ensure that musical culture continues to grow and flourish, it's equally as important to protect the publishers, producers, and record labels that help make that content available to the public. There's absolutely no justification for the incredible hit that record companies have had to take in the past ten years, and furthermore, it's clear that the existence of an online community revolving around the creation of music has done the industry no favors. In fact, I haven't heard a single song I've liked more since hearing "Push" in 1997 from Matchbox Twenty's seminal album - a song created without any help from Joe T. Internet.

#9 - Reduced Circulation of Promotional Material

These days, you can't turn on your computer without somehow activating a video trailer (mouse over for sound) for the latest Vin Diesel movie. While I love Babylon A.D. as much as the next guy, I can't help but feel that advertising has reached an all-time high that we're nearly powerless to fight back against. Banner ads, pop ups, and interactive trailers are at an all-time high of intrusion - and furthermore, fans' capability of sharing trailers, commercials, and clips with their friends has reached an all-time high. SOPA will help quell this oversaturation, ensuring that we only see these trailers and promotions in the appropriate places - on approved sites, using an access code clumsily read off of a 20 oz. bottle of Diet Mountain Dew.

#8 - Blocking of Foreign-Content Websites

Part of SOPA allows the government the ability to block content from foreign websites that may infringe upon the rights of those browsing it here in the States. This is fantastic news, primarily because I'm sick and tired of people linking me news stories that seem wildly incredible and sensational, and then once I relink them, it's pointed out to me that I've just been fooled yet again by the Daily Mail. It brings tears - both of embarrassment, and of rage - to my eyes every time it happens. I don't know what it is about British law that permits such a foul website to exist. There is likely a clause buried somewhere in the Magna Carta that specifically mandates the creation of such a website in order to torment fine upstanding Americans like myself - Americans who want, more than anything, to believe that everything that someone takes the time to write down is completely true. I cannot wait for that damn site to be out of my life forever.

#7 - Elimination of Person-to-Person Content Sharing

SOPA will finally mean the beginning of the end for those who choose to freely distribute media that is not their own. I'm speaking here of those who use Torrent files (or IRC transfers - they're basically the same thing) to share movies, TV shows, music, and Broadway transcripts to one another over a stable broadband connection completely free of charge. Why is this a good thing? Don't we want to be exposed to shows and other forms of entertainment that we might not have otherwise seen? Yes - in moderation.

There are so many different new pieces of entertainment being released on a daily basis that no one can keep up. Everyone races from season 2 of one show to the next season of another, grabbing ebooks and pilot episodes and soundtracks and god knows what else. It's a literal deluge of content, and the fact that it doesn't stop moving means that no one has the time to step back and look at the simmering mass and realize how terrible most of it is.

Do you realize that Jersey Shore has just entered its fifth season? How did we, as a human race, allow this to happen? If people would quit trying to throttle their bandwidth so that they could download The Producers for the 83rd time in the hopes of finally finding the Jason Alexander / Martin Short version, maybe we could've solved this problem on our own. But we didn't, so now we need the government to do it for us. Shame on you.

#6 - Copyright Protection for Goods and Services

The protection of copyrighted material doesn't just extend to creators of aural delights - it's also a big win for the companies that make America great. Companies that produce affordable clothing, decor, and cute knick-knacks. Companies whose existence is threatened by so-called "handcrafted goods" sold by independent retailers on sites like etsy. Let's be honest, folks - if these people had any real talent, then they'd be working for a real corporation, like Walmart or Super Walmart (if they're really good.)

My sister was sporting a particularly tacky necklace when I went home for Christmas. When I called her out on it, she confessed that she had received the necklace as a gift from a friend who purchased the godless piece of trash on etsy. We held a family burning of the offensive trinket in the driveway. It was a good, purifying fire that lasted several minutes in the crisp winter air.

#5 - Elimination of Memes and Meme Culture

I don't know about you, but I don't understand a single joke that's said on the Internet any more. Don't get me wrong - I've been on the Internet since AOL 2.0, and I know my way around uploading and downloading things to an FTP server. I've been "around," you could say. But the language and content that's used on the Internet has grown quite literally out of control. Individuals - I assume that they're individuals, anyway - seem to communicate entirely using some kind of retarded twin-speak that can only be deciphered by the residents of the Interracial Mecha Catgirl (Advanced Class) forum. Inevitably, these in-jokes spill out into the world at large, and the rest of us are forced to learn their horrible references simply to communicate, much less get the jokes. While I don't expect SOPA will put an end to this madness, it will at least shut down sites that have dedicated themselves to the creation and preservation of these crimes against language. Stopping the spread of the contamination is the beginning.

#4 - Identity Security

Have you ever had your account hacked? Your identity stolen? Your Social Security number and date of birth heisted from virtual safe that you didn't even realize existed? Or - more likely - have you ever received an e-mail telling you that your information might have been compromised? The anxiousness of not knowing is a terrifying feeling. The despair of having every penny you own siphoned away is even more horrible. We, as humans, are expected to memorize complex security procedures and passwords in order to complete transactions. We're asked to put our trust in websites we've never met, or shaken the hands of, or bled with side-by-side in a foxhole. We're told to enroll in special security programs offered by banks and credit unions, who cross their heart and hope to die that they'll keep our most precious secrets safe.

Why endure such trauma? SOPA will herald the end of digital transactions via Paypal, Amazon, ebay, or any other diabolic cash vortex. Our identities, bank accounts, and credit scores will at last be safe again. It's not like you can't find anything on Amazon Prime at your neighborhood's flea market, anyway. And it's probably damaged on the side, so you can haggle your way down to 93% of the original price! Now that's what I call a steal!

#3 - Protection Against Activist-Based Communications

Part of SOPA stipulates that the government can counter-act tools that are specifically built to work around the blocks placed on foreign content. Specifically cites are tools used by political refugees and activists in countries around the world where their own freedom of speech is blocked. I can't fully describe how happy this makes me. I am firmly against communications from these countries reaching my Internet browser (as of this writing, Netscape 4.5, or as I call it, "the GOOD version.") Understand - I am deeply sympathetic to the plight of these heroic individuals. They often live in squalid conditions under tyrannical rulers in an atmosphere of terror and uncertainty. Often, the Internet provides the only possible means of communicating with others in the outside world, giving them a once in a lifetime chance to plea for help. My issue is not with the details of their situation - it's simply a matter of timing.

You see, nearly all of these countries exist elsewhere on the globe, meaning that by the time they get to their Starbucks and plug in their MacBook Air in order to blog about the fact that their country is a living hell, I'm already totally asleep. The idea that I have to wake up and then spend a portion of my morning catching up with what someone wrote while I was asleep is not merely confusing, it's downright inconvenient. Why aren't they asleep? I understand that their circumstances are rough, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't rest, and it certainly doesn't mean that I should lose any sleep! I've got things to do with my day! I'm going to learn how to make duck a l'orange today - I don't have time to catch up on whether or not the secret police have killed and eaten your father or not!

#2 - Consolidation of Search Engines

If you've read any of my content before (thank you - I don't know why the hell you read it, but thank you just the same,) then you know I love the intricacies of game design. It permeates everything that I do. I'm always on the lookout for new ideas where a game could exist, or how to improve upon an already-present game. SOPA presents a fantastic opportunity for game enthusiasts like myself in the form of the consolidation of search engine material. I use "consolidation" here as a more upbeat description of SOPA's enforcement of copyright protection on engines that could, potentially, link to material that infringes on the rights of others. While many search engines may simply close their doors rather than spend the millions of man hours necessary to comb through their linked material and eliminate the links that route the user to offensive material, I think that this will open the door for a new type of search engine that has its roots in early adventure games.

Our new search engines will fulfill the same function as the present ones - they will allow you to comb the Internet for specific kinds of data by using keywords. However, as we've seen, present-day search engines present you with a wide variety of choices, often taking drastic liberties with your keywords in the hopes of somehow delivering content that looks or smells like what you wanted to find. Not so with the search engines of the future! No, much like early text-based adventures (like Zork, Monkey Island, or Myst,) our new searches will be required to fit a very price set of commands, ensuring that when you get your results, it's exactly what you wanted to find... and NOT material that steps on the toes of the copyright owner! For example, rather than seaching for "dragon age 3 screenshots," you would search for "dragon age 3 windows 7 screenshot number 19 resolution 800 by 600 pixels ultra high settings on in dragon age 3 screenshot gallery". Make sure you don't misspell "resolution" three times in a row, or the copyright infringement grue will make a note of your IP address.

#1 - End of Internet As We Know It

You know all those people who thought the Internet was just a fad? They were right. In a few short years, the World Wide Web has completely changed how the human race lives, works, and interacts with itself. Whether this is an improvement or not is a question that I leave for each individual reading this to decide for themselves. But what absolutely cannot be debated is the sheer quantity of information that each of us has access to on a moment to moment basis. We process more pure data - good, bad, and apocryphal - over the course of a month than most humans have had access to in their entire lives. This tremendous influx of info has led us astray from the process of living our lives. We need to pull back from the monitor and go outside, to smile in the sunshine and take a walk to the grocery store. And we do need to know something that maybe we can't recollect right away - who was that guy in that one movie? - we know where we can find it, right where it's always been waiting for us, waiting for us to come home: the Encarta '95 encyclopedia.

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