I have not written much about SOPA/PIPA, mostly because there were so many people being so much more eloquent about the dangers of the legislation than I would be.* I could not think of anything to say that would not simply be a pale imitation of others' words.
So this is just an observation: when people whose livelihoods depend upon the security of their copyrights start raising the alarm, it is a bad bill.** (See also.)
A friend of mine on Facebook pointed out, though, that every one of us who illegally downloads a song, who can't wait for that episode of their favorite show to come out on DVD, who gets movies off of Pirate Bay, contributes to the very real problem that these bills allege to correct. My hands are not clean, but more and more these days I am trying to be careful about where I get material.*** (I was relieved when iTunes started carrying Criminal Minds, because that meant that there was a way to see the episodes without waiting for reruns. I had not been watching the episodes I missed because there was no way to do so legally.)
I know artists, photographers and writers. They are able to make a living doing what they do because they can control what happens with their work. The same is true of those who make television, movies and music. They need and deserve to have their work protected. All of us can help with that.
I am not naive enough to think that if all of us stopped swiping things the efforts to pass bills like SOPA/PIPA will go away; I'm cynical enough to think that these are as much about power and control as they are about protecting artists. But we can stop being the users who prop up the drug cartel.
*That's never stopped me before, I know.
**And you have to read this. I won't describe it, just... read. I nearly snorted my Salted Carmel Mocha through my nose.
*** I actually bought Weird Al's "Don't Download This Song" for 99 cents from iTunes, which my children found incredibly funny.