My Thoughts on SOPA/PIPA

Since I blacked out my site today in protest of the SOPA/PIPA bills in congress right now, and spent a good amount of time today linking to related pages on the subject, I figured I ought to write my own thoughts as well.  Also to give a bit of an explanation of *what* it is about these bills that is so terrible as to cause as much upheaval as it has.

First of all I feel that the most important thing for me to note is that I am VERY anti-piracy.  It is my opinion that if you wouldn’t take it off the shelf at Best Buy and hide it in your backpack, you shouldn’t be pirating your friend’s copy or bit-torrenting non-free software/videos/games/music etc.  I know that is an unpopular stance among my peers, but just because something is in a digital format and it is easy to steal doesn’t make it any more right to steal it.

However, even while I believe that intellectual property rights do need to be protected and that piracy needs to be addressed, the SOPA and PIPA bills that are in Congress right now are totally the wrong way to address these problems.  I hope you’ll indulge me while I illustrate my oppositions with two major scenarios that this bill would make possible that should not be a reality in a free country.

Scenario 1

Suppose on an international-domain website I were to be selling t-shirts and I had a competitor t-shirt seller that had decided I was taking away too much of their business and wanted to get some of that business back.  Under the laws that are being considered, all my competitor would have to do is file for an injunction that I had copyrighted material on my website that did not belong to me.  Whether or not that claim was true, or even if the material in question was put up there by me (as opposed to a commenter on my website or some other 3rd party) the granted injunction would go to all US-based search engines and payment processors who would immediately be forced to sever all connections to my website completely.  No chance to clear up the misunderstanding or warning to me.  Now my website is down until I can go through the process of disputing that claim.  This means no one can easily access my site or buy my t-shirts and my competitor is stealing all of my business.  My credibility would be ruined among my customer base and my whole business is sunk.  For a claim that wasn’t difficult to place, and might not even have any veracity.

Scenario 2

Sometimes I like to use Google Talk to have a video call with my parents.  It’s a nice way to show off the kids and enjoy feeling close to family even though they’re 704 miles away (yes, I did just check 🙂 ).  If I were to have some music playing in the background while on this call and someone were to report me for it I could face felony charges and a 5-year prison sentence. Not a misdemeanor or a speeding ticket-esque fine, felony charges.  You know, like they hand out for rape, murder, grand theft auto?  Somehow forgetting to turn of your stereo just doesn’t seem worthy of those consequences (even if my mom didn’t like the music I was listening to 😛 ).

Now, the writers of these bills would say “that’s not the intention of these bills” or “nothing like that would ever happen”.  Which is a nice thought, but if that’s not their intention then they need to write better legislation.  The whole point of laws is that they’re a contract between citizens and government that outlines the expected behavior and the consequences of not living up to that behavior.  If the contract doesn’t include internet censorship, or felony charges for minor infractions, then the contract needs to be written up differently.  Like I said, I’m all for intellectual property protection, but they need to do it correctly, and not by putting people in harm’s way who don’t deserve the harm.

If you agree with these sentiments and haven’t already taken action please go to http://americancensorship.org/ and contact your congress people and let them know that you do NOT support SOPA/PIPA legislation.  I’d also recommend reading Eric’s post on the subject.

2012 Resolutions

I know I’m a little late to be just making my New Year’s resolutions, but I’d rather make them late than not at all.  The New Year itself isn’t necessarily a magical time for making goals, just a good reminder to make some and to see how you did on the ones from the year before.  Sadly my resolutions from this past year never made it into blog form.  Probably because we were in the middle of moving into a new house and getting settled, so I’m not going to feel too bad about it.  Anyways, here are my goals for this coming year.
  • Add 1 new vegetarian meal per month to our family’s meal plans – I’d really like to find ways to make our family’s meals more nutritious and less meat dependent, but I have a very difficult time finding reasonably simple, yummy looking, vegetarian recipes (any recommendations for good recipes would be VERY welcome!)
  • 100% Visiting Teaching
  • Attend the temple at least once a month
  • Plan to have at least one couple over each month (excluding family) – Eric and I have become hermits, and while we love our hermetic life we really need to get out of our shells and have more social interaction.  I exclude family from this goal because we aren’t too bad at having family over and just need to increase our interactions with those *not* related to us.
  • House clean enough for company before church each Sunday – I’m an abysmal house keeper.  But if I can have the house totally cleaned up at least once a week then everything else seems manageable.

So there you have it.  Nothing real fancy but those are the things I would most like to accomplish this year in terms of things that are quantifiable and achievable.  Ready, set, GO!

Testimony

Today was our ward’s fast and testimony meeting.  As I was standing bouncing our baby during the sacrament I decided that I would like to get up and bear my testimony today.  However, before the sacrament ended I had to take that baby out to feed him and the line on the stand never dwindled enough for me to feel like I ought to get up.  So I promised myself that I would at least come home and share my thoughts here.

December 31st marked a major milestone for me.  It marked the end of the first year since 2002 that I had began and finished in the same ward.  Over the previous 8 years I had been in 10.5 wards (I’m counting Eric’s BYU singles’ ward as a half since the semester we were engaged I attended with him more frequently than not, even though my records remained in my geographic ward).  For me that was a very difficult thing.  I like to think of myself as a friendly person, but the truth is that I am seriously shy and it takes me awhile to adjust to new situations.  During those 8 years it would take me about 6 months to start to settle into a new ward. which we were then in for about 3-6 months longer before moving on again.

As I was standing in our ward’s chapel bouncing our baby I was able to look around and I realized that I actually *knew* most of the people in our ward.  Not only that, but they are people that I like and feel privileged to be around.  They’re the same people that I see at the park and in joy school or at the grocery store.  I’ve served with them in nursery or primary or at least served with their children there.  I can honestly say that I love our ward and can’t think of any place I’d rather be.

I feel so blessed to know that our Heavenly Father loves us and is watching out for what we need, and what will make us happy.  When Eric and I were engaged we decided that we could live anywhere, but we really didn’t want to end up in Utah.  Five years later Utah is (of course) exactly where we are and we don’t have any intention of leaving (except to go to China for awhile if the opportunity should arise 🙂 ) .  I thought about some of the other plans we’ve made that I’m so glad didn’t work out for us.  Growing up I was adamant that I was going to the University of Utah – but going to BYU was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  When Eric and I got married we said we were going to wait 3 years before we started to think about having children – 8 months later we’d changed our minds and less than two years later we had Sam.  As we were getting ready to settle down we tried desperately to get out of Utah.  When we realized we were staying we set the criteria for our house that we wanted to be close to everything – if you’ve been in our neighborhood you know that we’re far away from just about everything.

I’m so grateful for personal revelation.  I”m grateful that the Lord can help us know the things that will be best for us, and not just let us have the things that we want.  I’m grateful for the wonderful place that we’ve ended up.  Left to our own devices there’s no way we would have chosen the place we did, but we couldn’t be happier with it.

I know that our Heavenly Father loves us and is watching over us. I know that He hears and answers our prayers and that if we follow his guidance and commandments He will lead us to the best situations for us.  I know that the gospel taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.  I’m so grateful for it in my life.