I was in Spain when websites and bloggers, including some SL bloggers, closed down for a day to protest the SOPA and PIPA bills being put through as law in the United States. It didn’t really affect me, I thought, because I’m not really one for sharing music or video files.
But after some thought, it seems to me that closing ‘megaupload’, and apparently causing widespread panic amongst music and video sharers, could just be the thin edge of the wedge.
Of course producers, of music and of video, should get paid. But they’re still getting paid -just in smaller, more realistic amounts than the days when rock stars where the millionaire sex gods of the planet. And they’ve achieved fabulous wealth while getting paid a pittance; it was the record labels who were making the really big money. And it’s hard to feel any sense of sympathy to record company executives who fed, leech like, on the backs of those who actually made the music.
So maybe we’re back to square one with this one, and the need for music to reinvent itself as it did as something for teens in the 1950s, and the way it coalesced into ‘rock and roll’ without there being big business involved. In America, local furniture stores even sometimes had their own record label, recording local bands. (In Britain, a furniture store owner called Brian Epstein was also taking a punt on getting a local act recorded). It was a hit and miss approach, and furniture store owners didn’t really have the expertise to say what would sell, instead taking a punt on what they liked, and sometimes it created what we now think of as great, maverick, timeless music.
None of which has anything to do with SL. But…but..but..if SOPA passes, becomes law, and alters the landscape, where might it end? Legislation gets dressed up and passed off as ‘anti terrorist’ or ‘child protection’ or ‘anti piracy’. Could there come a time when representations of the naked form become ‘the man’s’ next target? (And who says the ‘land of the free’ is so much better than life under the Taliban or the Mad Mullahs of Iraq?) Who’s to say some Tipper Gore figure isn’t going to lurch out of left field and press Linden Labs, or other grids, to shut down skin designers who show nipple? American bloggers, in the main, seem to have this weird reticence to display he female breast in their cartoon representation of the female form anyway. There’s one or two exceptions, of course, and the same goes for inworld stores where nipples are removed in favour of pasties or blurs. Sorry, but I don’t have pasties or blurs in my brassiere. I have nipples. I’m not afraid to display them, in SL or in RL for that matter. They fed my infants, to begin with, they were a source of nourishment. We should fear that?
All it takes is some fundamentalist nutter with a self-serving agenda to begin targeting SL nudity and, well, where are we? We get ‘born’ into SL with PG skins that have underwear attached. It isn’t until we get a new skin that nipples (and vulvas) become visible, or guys go off in search of penis attachments as their first act in SL upon discovery they don’t actually own one as born.
I’m not a poseball hopper either (read my profile!) but I understand there are those who do and enjoy the cyber experience. But I’d be opposed to SL being targeted to eradicate poseballs too. So while SOPA and PIPA don’t affect me as a blogger, or internet user, there could come a time when my internet freedoms are quashed under the guise of something or other. And for that reason I’m in full support of any campaign to diminish our online freedoms.