Yesterday a New York man was sentenced to a year in prison for posting a copy of the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine a month before it was released.
He'd been charged with a similar offense before, but a year of hard time – that's federal prison, not a local jail – is ridiculously vindictive and excessive for the offense involved.
That sentence is a direct response to a decade of relentless, unself-conscious obsession with punishing anyone who would take a penny out of the pockets of RIAA members, while neglecting the opportunity to change business practices or add value to what the customer was paying inflated fees to get and virtually ignoring the global change in technology and culture that made the music-industry's business model obsolete, and allowed piracy to work in the first place
The RIAA and the intent of SOPA itself stems from an irrational rage that the world has changed and unquestioned belief that the change is the fault of the industry's customers, who should be made to pay for the self-inflicted misfortunes of the record industry.
Giving the cartoonish villain real (unconstitutional) power
So…how do you feel about giving the same people the power to command that agents of federal law enforcement agencies give up on drug runners, kidnappers, terrorists and spies in order to shut down web sites and confiscate domains for simply being accused of having offended members of a group willing to sue a dead grandmother and grill a 10-year-old girl to discover who from outside the house was spoofing her address in order to download a song 10-year-old girls don't listen to, at an hour they're not generally awake?
Meanwhile, members of RIAA – or at least people using IP addresses assigned to specific locations within RIAA's network – illegally downloaded enough copies of the HBO series Dexter that, if the fines they try to impose on other people were also applied to RIAA, they would total more than $9 million.
Persistent, vindictive, mean, insensitive and hypocritical? You've got the makings of a really excellent villain there.
Too bad it's writing laws that violate freedoms specifically protected by the documents that form the basis of all the other laws in the United States rather than stroking a cat or wearing awkward bondage gear as the bad guy in a James Bond movie, where its scenery chewing would seem more natural.
At least RIAA won't weaken the opposition by seeming too sympathetic.