End-of-the-Internet Sightseeing

Ari Spool

SOPA future

What the Internet will look like.

Today, famous mom-and-pop websites like Wikipedia and Google are engaging in Internet protests to bring attention to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and its evil cousin the Protect IP Act (PIPA). It's working. SOPA had not been featured in any major-media controlled news sources because they are too busy examining the possibly-graying, definitely-Mormon pubic hair of Mitt Romney's oldest son Tagg, and also because large media companies are in favor of SOPA and PIPA because they don't want anyone pirating Everybody Loves Raymond and all their other crappy garbage programming on foreign free TV aggregators. But today, every mom who needs to look up how to spell Achmedinejad is gonna learn about DNS blocking, and although they might not understand the danger of over-stringent copyright enforcement, if they are good Americans the hairs on the back of their neck should pop a little bit when people compare the censorship of SOPA to what happens in red China.

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However, in this climate where corporations are “the people” who actually get officials elected and make sure to feed their hungry campaign coffers, it's hard to tell if these protests will be effective in blocking Congress and the Senate from voting these acts into law. So why don't we take a lovely tour of the Internet that will be demolished should SOPA pass. Get on the bus and let's all go not-so-deep into the bowels of the World Wide Web to learn about what will change.

1. No more celeb sex vids

In the glory days of the early 2000s it seemed like everywhere you looked an awesome hot celeb was “accidentally” releasing a sex tape or having a sex tape stolen by a party guest, or trying to get a sex vid back from the internet somehow, which we all knew would never be possible because once something is on the internet, it is forever on the internet. Since all celebrities have filed for copyright for their personalities so that they can release $60 branded perfumes, SOPA would allow them to get the entire porn underbelly of the internet taken out of Google, which means that Google would search for things much faster since the web would be, at most, one-quarter of its current size.

2. No more 2 Fast 2 Furious

Already, Google doesn't autofill when you are trying to look for torrents, but obviously that's not really a big impediment to finding them. Look, I found at least 1,200,000! ONE MILLION TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND. Okay, this brings us to a really important part of why this shit is very, very dumb: there has always been a black market for people who want things for cheaper or free. If stopping piracy breaks the free internet, it's easy enough to build another one. The internet is purely a massive web of computers, all connected. Its strength comes from its size. But it is not impossible to just create another web, and people who want things for free can do just that. There will always be piracy. The only thing SOPA actually does is make it slightly more difficult for pirates, and it uses too broad of a sword, allowing corporations to lop off the heads of a lot of legitimate websites, without due process, for extremely minor copyright infractions. But it won't actually stop demand, which black markets will always rise to fill.

3. No more funny memes

One of the things free speech specifically protects is the use of publicly-held material for satire and commentary. As fas as I can tell, hilarious Tyra Banks GIFs fall under satire. But if Tyra disagrees, she can have her lawyers put in a request for any site hosting these GIFs to be removed. Bye bye, hilarious memes. No more Sad Keanu. No more Pepper-Spray Cop in the Sorbonne.

Tell your congressperson to vote against SOPA and PIPA, or, if you don't believe that those things will help, pray to whatever various deity you think is the god of the Internet. I believe it's a giant, benevolent Kitten-God, and when you die, he peacefully plays you off if you've been good and rick-rolls you if you've been bad. If you don't do either of these things, then you are asking for an internet that looks like this:

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