Thursday, January 19, 2012

In Protest of SOPA & PIPA | This Artist's Response & Letter

Hi Colleagues,

I submitted the following letter to my civic representatives today to join the protest of SOPA/PIPA. Wikipedia launched a blackout of their site yesterday (1/18/12) to protest SOPA/PIPA, and other sites followed. My letter emphasizes me as an artist to correct erroneous assumption that SOPA/PIPA help artists (they do not as follows):
I am writing to you as a voter in your district. I work as a communication consultant, photographer, and writer. I urge you to vote "no" on cloture for S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act, on Jan. 24th. The PROTECT IP Act is dangerous, ineffective, and short-sighted. It does not deserve floor consideration. I urge my representative to vote "no" on SOPA HR 3261, the corresponding House bill.

Note the difference in effectiveness and sustainability in health and education. Digital approaches to collaboration can change those two sectors; key world events in recent years have already shown how digi-collaboration changes politics.  I dislike monetizing what people need, and people need to communicate and collaborate their contribution to build healthy societies. Yet I know people need to earn a monetized living to pay for necessities, and I also know the frustration of people "stealing" my art online. In any case, law in US is becoming more centralized and not in a democratic-republic-socialist way.

I do not equivocate democracy w/"free" market capitalism b/c such does not exist when you have an oligarchy or otherwise setting value over goods and occupations, or worse, when you have a gov't allowing corporations to sell jobs overseas, aka outsourcing. How then will people "make" money to "drive" the economy and "save" us from the recession? In other words, the prior used metrics no longer apply. I find pretentious at best b/c the whole system seems contrived. Thus PIPA and SOPA will be ineffective to bring about the desired outcome of monetizing and siloing knowledge.

I write elsewhere that we need to transition our culture of siloing knowledge and meritocracy to collaboration and contribution. Imagine the cross sector benefits that can take place in health and education with such a paradigm shift. Observe how paradigms and assumptions influence how we design, organize, and deliver systems. It's important to pause and reflect on the what and why behind our approach before we arrive to "how." I see PIPA and SOPA as a knee-jerk "how to" fast fix on corporate interest to continue siloing knowledge and thus perpetuating a divided society with economic disparities that hampers creative contribution.

In this way, and in its unqualified language, I see SOPA and PIPA as acts of violence and not as the intended "protection" for corporations. These laws will not help our economy, but will hurt them, and set a poor example for the constitutional right to free speech that the US espouses and for the failure of which criticizes other nation states.

Be that as it may, PIPA and SOPA lack precise language that qualifies power and thus does not provide a reasonable check and balance. Notice that people online freely adopt a licensing culture of sharing, innovation, and _precise_ due process. Creative Commons and bloggers who link attributions provide two such examples. I blog for my research and consulting practice, and it will burden my marketing if I must police those who contribute content or comments, or my affiliates.

Worse still, doing so creates a policing culture. We do not want to be in a position where people no longer question authority; to me, that willingness to question authority rings at the heart of why America came into being. So I encourage you to draft legislation that precisely handles and delivers its intent, and most of all that encourages values for free speech, artistic contribution, economic innovation, and that also addresses those perpetrators that have caused economic havoc on many, e.g., housing crisis. Help Bernie Sanders with his cause instead of wasting time on this poorly drafted legislation.

Please say no to SOPA and PIPA in favor of more fair and precise legislation that allows for transparent and due process, to Say No to Communication Violence, and to respect freedom of speech and the culture of sharing and innovation online.

Thank you for considering my request. Be free to contact me for interviews or consulting on public commons reform in my interests: health, education, and cyber law.

Kindly and respectfully,
Dena M. Rosko, MA-ComL
The Problem

In addition to monetizing and siloing innovation, I write elsewhere how governments often respond with impression management, especially concerning the cyber realm, such as in a case in my city where the city threatened law suit and penalized (demoted, early retirement) officers for their alleged participation in an online video that criticized the SCORE jail.

Does this imply that my blog post here can also be criminalized, and with SOPA/PIPA, punished two-fold? One for posting my criticism of what I regard as an unjust reaction and a misunderstanding, at best, of how social media works, and the other for somehow inadvertently violating SOPA/PIPA's ambiguous yet far reaching terms? On the latter, I don't see how my blog violates SOPA/PIPA save requiring me to now police interactions, which smacks against the connectivity culture that I aspire to create.

Implications and Questions

Now here's a seeming catch to my protest of SOPA/PIPA. Here's a happy photo of me with my copyright certificate for my Master's thesis. The Electronic Frontier Foundation lists concerns over Expanded Attorney General Powers, Corporate Right of Action, The “Vigilante” Provision, & The Anti-Circumvention Provision.

Does my protest of SOPA/PIPA contradict my desire to protect and license my research? Will I be sued or blocked because I post a photo of the Copyright office's logo, or a photo of a book title? Will my city as a be able to sue me for posting something it wants to protect? Will I be sued for linking to copywritten sites? Clarify my confusion here.

Siloed assumptions do not necessarily benefit or directly target a crime; therefore, yesterday's assumptions do not necessarily benefit drafting cyber law for today's digital collaborative culture/economy. Better to design a transparent system with precision, equal access, and due process to cite, refer, track, and build upon works. Creative Commons and good 'ole fashioned reference style lists, e.g., AP Stylebook and the MLA Style Manual, and bloggers who normalize modes of giving credit, e.g., linking to site or statement authors, provide a few such examples.

The difference in those three examples:  the credit is not necessarily monetized or contained or not shared. It's important for honesty, fidelity, authenticity, and accuracy to give due credit.  You must know who developed an idea to ask them to explain it.  Yet I'm aware that "there's nothing new under the sun" (Eccl. 1). However, the same book also prescribes, "to everything a season..." (Eccl. 3).  Yet, did the same person write that? Is there continuity in thought? Continuity and attribution do at least connect to veracity.

Whatever the case, it's time to adopt assumptions and paradigms in developing cyber law. I suggest themes for collaboration instead of siloing, and contribution instead of meritocracy. Either way you shake it, your created work will take a lot of just that... work. My thesis illustrates both points:  it took a lot of work, and I post as a full text PDF on my blog while copyrighting it at the same time. I completed my thesis as a partial requirement for my MA in Communication & Leadership Studies. Therefore, I needed to "prove" that I wrote it.

In other words, assuming that artists don't want to starve and in this present economic infrastructure need to monetize a trade to pay for living expenses, then should we protect copyright? I go back to effectiveness and precision. So are we at an impasse? What solutions do you see to this problem? Should we legislate the internet at all? If so, to what degree and why? If not, why not, and what can we do instead? These questions assume that at least by appearance the law ecquivocates content protection.

My point is that I believe SOPA/PIPA to be ineffective, lacking precision, too broad in its power, and drawn for corporate interests that, even by appearance of the word "protect," actually hurt artists' and others' contribution.  We need to adjust our paradigms for cyber law and improve digital literacy instead of criminalizing online content and certainly before legislating that, as my fabulous 10-year-old cousin queries, "that new thing called the internet."

Learn More

In any case, I seek to consult organizations, included government, on paradigmatic shifts, communication strategies, leadership principles, vocational development or learning process, and narrative approaches to benefit the public commons, or health, education, and law sectors. Learn more about my research.

Learn more about SOPA/PIPA at

Want to join the protest? Sign these petitions. Your petition not on the list? Post your link in the comments:

Advocate responsible media.  What do you think? What do you assume about copyright? What provisions or climate lead to an innovative society? Be free to share your opinions in the comments.


From freepress:

In the last 48 hours more than a dozen senators have come out against the Protect IP Act (PIPA), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just announced he’s postponing next week’s vote on the bill.
But PIPA isn’t dead yet. Even after more than 10 million people urged Congress to stop this legislation, some in the Senate still aren't listening.

Even Mark Zuckerburg tweeted opposition to SOPA/PIPA.  So SOPA halted in the House. Round of applause to the combined 13M people who protested PIPA and SOPA during the 1/18/12 Blackout.

I received this email from Sen. Cantwell (1/23/12):
Dear Mr. [sic] Dena,

Thank you for contacting me about the internet streaming of copyrighted material. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

On May 12, 2011, Senator Leahy (D-VT) introduced S. 968, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property (PROTECT IP) Act. Under current federal law, U.S. law enforcement officials and holders of copyrights, trademarks, and patents, have limited legal remedies available to combat internet websites that are registered in foreign countries but operate in the United States by selling products, services, and/or content that violates U.S. intellectual property law. If enacted, the proposed legislation would create an expedited process for the Department of Justice and intellectual property rights holders to shut down through a court order these websites by targeting the owners and operators of the Internet site, if known, or the domain name registrant associated with the Internet site.

While I am supportive of the goal of protecting intellectual property, I am deeply concerned that the definitions and the means by which the legislation seeks to accomplish these goals will have unintended consequences and hurt innovation, job creation, and threaten online speech and security. On November 17, 2011, I signed a letter along with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) objecting to the bill as it is currently written.

On December 17, 2011, Senator Wyden introduced the "Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade" (OPEN) Act (S. 2029), of which I am an original co-sponsor. The bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, where it is currently awaiting further review. The OPEN Act is a more effective approach to stop foreign web sites that are found to be primarily and willfully used to infringe intellectual property rights. The OPEN Act builds on the existing legal framework used by the International Trade Commission (ITC) for addressing unfair acts in the importation of articles into the United States, or in their sale for importation, or sale within the United States after importation.

Our trade laws have yet to catch up to deal with the global digital economy. The OPEN Act recognizes that the Internet has created new opportunities for foreign products to reach the U.S. market and that there is little difference between downloading a pirated movie from a foreign website and importing a counterfeit movie DVD from a foreign company. For those foreign web sites that are determined after an investigation to be primarily and willfully infringing, the International Trade Commission will issue a "Cease and Desist" order. The "Cease and Desist" order may also be served on financial intermediaries that provide services to that foreign web site, compelling financial payment processors and online advertising providers to cease doing business with the foreign site in question.  This would cut off financial incentives for this illegal activity and deter these unfair imports from reaching the U.S. market.

The OPEN Act addresses the same challenges as the PROTECT IP Act, while protecting freedom of speech, innovation, and security on the Internet. The challenge of rogue web sites is one that many nations face. The United States has always been seen as a leader on Internet issues. Laws we establish in the United States regarding the Internet are likely to be used as models around the world. And because the Internet is global in nature, it is important that we carefully consider how the laws and policies we adopt in this area may be received and translated by other countries.

The Protect IP Act was scheduled to go to the Senate floor for a procedural vote on January 23, 2011. Due to the effective grassroots advocacy and public outcry against the bill, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has pulled the proposed legislation from the floor calendar.

I appreciate Majority Leader Reid's decision to postpone a vote on the PROTECT IP Act. America's economy thrives on innovation and freedom of speech. We can't afford to rush an Internet policy that could trample on our innovation economy. The American people clearly spoke and their voices were heard. As we move forward, I'll continue to advocate for a policy that protects both creative content and online freedom of speech.

Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. You may also be interested in signing up for periodic updates for Washington State residents. If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.


Maria Cantwell
United States Senator

For future correspondence with my office, please visit my website at 

My email reply (1/23/12):
Thank you Senator Cantwell for making time to reply to my concerns about SOPA/PIPA. In addition to my concerns about hurting innovation, free speech, and creating a policing internet culture, I also feel concern over trade laws that could potentially negatively impact international diplomatic relations. I encourage a bi-directional approach that allows for foreign trade without only advancing US interests abroad. Thank you for your consideration and time.

Kindly and respectfully,
Dena M. Rosko, MA-ComL
I also emailed via his website Sen. Wyden, who introduced the OPEN act:
Dear Sen. Wyden,

Thank you for opening comment for the OPEN act. I've shared my views on SOPA/PIPA, OPEN, and my paradigm behind cyber law at I consult organizations in health, education, and cyber literacy at

Thank you for your consideration and time.

Kindly and Respectfully,
Dena M. Rosko, MA-ComL

My greatest concern over any legislation of the internet involves the impact on free speech, content creators/artists, innovation, and international relations. I encourage civic leaders to consider the opportunity to reach out with constructive diplomacy via the internet instead of policing foreign use.

While I'm for protecting copyright, the language and application must be specific to that end and always allow for a conversation to take place. The interaction, after all, is the metric when it comes to digital literacy and media. To that end I recommend that civic leaders ensure that they understand cyber culture before writing legislation.

Perhaps civic leaders can open fields online for people to input their ideal cyber copyright legislation in keeping with collaboration and innovation. In addition, add social media profiles for proposed legislation and hire someone to respond to people in those feeds. The current "share" buttons do not suffice as they are uni-directional, or are intended to broadcast/promote. Go for the interaction, and see the cyber law principles and application develop and improve as you more readily engage people's input.

I'm grateful that Sen. Cantwell took the time to set up an albeit automated response to my inquiry. Learn more about the OPEN act and share your views.

Urge your senator to oppose PIPA, especially those on the fence. Note that legislation ought not be bought. This bill alleges to protect industry, but impinges upon free speech of the citizen and hampers innovation. On those counts I continue to protest.

Thank you for reading,
and Say Yes to Building a
Collaborative & Contributory
Culture & Society,