Hello sports fans! Are you ready for the big games this weekend? Well, before you settle in to watch the action, consider this inconvenient fact:
In all likelihood, you’re tacitly supporting the controversial — and misleadingly-named — Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
“SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act. Essentially, it is a bill that was created to protect American intellectual property… While the intentions of the bill were good (to protect American intellectual property), the vague language of SOPA will empower corporations to censor the internet. Which is not good. If the bills were passed, the attorney general could create a list of sites that were essentially blacklisted by search engines, service providers, payment providers, etc – without a court hearing or trial. (Um hello, first amendment violation, anyone?!)”
As you can imagine, people — or more appropriately, We The People, not big media conglomerates and the politicians that they contribute to — are mostly outraged by the potentially chilling effects to free speech that could result from SOPA. Many companies have even publicly expressed their objections to the proposed bill.
But not all companies are against SOPA. GoDaddy, the web hosting and domain registration giant, posted a blog entry backing SOPA, only to withdraw its support after individuals and businesses alike threatened to boycott GoDaddy. But GoDaddy isn’t (or rather wasn’t) alone. At least 142 companies have pledged their support for SOPA. And some of the names of might surprise you.
The National Football League (NFL) supports SOPA. And so do Major League Baseball (MLB), ESPN, ABC, CBS, Comcast/NBC Universal and the United States Tennis Association.
Good luck watching a game this weekend without silently supporting censorship.
So what’s an anti-SOPA sports fan to do? The way I see it, you have two choices:
Option 1: The Scorched-Earth Approach.
Cancel your season tickets. Show up to stadiums with handmade signs to protest SOPA. Get rid of cable and cease visiting ESPN.com for news and scores (you know they make money on website ads too, right?). Stop buying merchandise from your favorite teams. Toss the t-shirts and hats that you have into the garbage. And so on. You get the picture.
Not a very attractive option, is it? And moreover, as Evo Terra points out via a great post on Google+, it’s extremely impractical to boycott each and every company that supports SOPA. Which leads me to the other option:
Option 2: Voice Dissent, But Get Real.
Yes, it’s fine to pressure companies to drop their support for SOPA. Hit up the NFL, MLB and other sports media entities via social media channels. Tell them that the presumed intent of SOPA — curbing online piracy — is admirable, but that the means do not support the end. Your efforts might even get a few organizations to change their positions (after all, GoDaddy caved in to pressure).
“Focusing our attention on these companies is a waste a time, though. We are wasting our precious energy and resources on these corporations when we really should be doubling down our efforts on getting people to call, email and snail mail their Congressman.
There are far better ways to fight piracy than SOPA.
You may think that contacting your Congressman doesn’t work, but trust me: it does. I used to work for the House of Representatives. I know first-hand what impact jamming the phone lines has on a Congressman looking to get re-elected.”
So while you’re busy cheering on your team and tracking your fantasy football statistics this weekend, put together your own plan of action to help defeat SOPA. I’d suggest the following actions, all of which can easily be done while you watch the big game:
- Research the OPEN Act, an alternative to SOPA that has drawn support from Google and other companies as an alternate means of fighting piracy.
- Look up your local congresspeople here. Voice your opposition to SOPA and educate them about OPEN. Make an appointment to see them in person, if possible.
- Contact the co-sponsors of SOPA to express your views. Ask friends and family who reside in their districts to reach out to them as well.
- Follow up with an email to your congressional leaders. There’s a handy form for that purpose here.
- Take a quick moment to sign the petition to veto SOPA on the White House’s official “We The People” page. This petition has already received enough signatures to merit consideration by the Obama administration, but more signatures cannot hurt.
- Reach out to your favorite teams via Facebook, Twitter and other channels.
In summary, it’s likely that while you’re cheering on your favorites sports teams, you’re also supporting organizations that back SOPA. Unfortunately, it’s impractical to boycott every organization that has thrown its weight behind this controversial proposal. You can make a difference in the fight to prevent a bad bill from becoming law, however, by taking the actions that I’ve outlined above.
Please act now. Also, let me know if you have any additional suggestions. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter, so please consider posting a comment below.
There’s a well-known remedy for saving smartphones that have been damaged after being submerged in water. As detailed in this thread on Quora, the solution involves filling a plastic bag with rice, sliding your phone in, sealing the bag up, and letting the rice wring the moisture out of the phone.
For a whole week. Seven. Whole. Days.
So there I was yesterday, holding my iPhone in one hand and a bag of rice in the other, all the while regretting my choice to read Twitter while holding my phone over a pint of beer (yep, it fell in).
As I prepared to slide my phone into the bag of rice, I stopped for a moment and pondered whether the actions that I were about to take were realistic. I was moments away from a week without Instagram. No foursquare or Path. No texting. None of the magic of Siri. And perhaps most frightening, time apart from mobile Twitter.
Slowly, I put the bag down. I decided to spend an afternoon field testing life without my smartphone, and make a decision based on the experience.
I could go into the whole afternoon and evening, step-by-step. But here’s the short it: Waiting in lines without the ability to kill time by reading Twitter was painful. I couldn’t check in anywhere — and this has become as reflexive as breathing. I wanted to Oink, but couldn’t, and had no idea what was going on within Facebook. And to top it off, some dude was wearing a huge furry hat with horns and I couldn’t even Instagram it.
So what did I do? I went home, cooked the rice, and made an appointment with the Genius Bar at my local Apple Store to trade in my phone for a replacement unit.
It’s going to cost me $199. But get this: there are 168 hours over a seven-day period. For $199, I don’t have to go without my iPhone for those 168 hours. That’s a cost of $1.18 per hour.
Think of it another way. If someone offered to pay you $1.18/hour to go without your smartphone (whether it’s an iPhone, Android device, or Windows phone), how long would you be willing to take the deal? Could you go a whole week?
And what if you had to rub salt in the wound by using a BlackBerry in the meantime?
I couldn’t do it. And no, I’m not made of money. The $199 replacement fee is going to hurt, especially after I’ve just finished buying Christmas presents. But my smartphone has become an integral part of nearly every waking hour of my day — so I just couldn’t.
Could you? Let me know with a comment below!