(A version of the letter I sent out today:)
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. My name is Will Hindmarch. I’m a Chicagoan, a writer, a designer, and a game developer. I have worked, both on salary and freelance, for companies that make their living on homemade and licensed IPs. I have seen my work appear without my permission on websites I don’t approve of, circulated without consent by media pirates.
The PROTECT IP Act and its cousin, SOPA, are gross and blunt reactions to the issue of media piracy. The Internet is a medium of ideas. Censoring the Internet—without due process for those labeled as violators of copyright—hinders ideas. These bills stymie innovation, choke a burgeoning creative culture, hinder American expression and fair use, and put the power to combat piracy into the hands least adapted to understand and parse the Internet. It rewards those who are slowest to adapt to a new-media frontier at the expense of pioneers and visionary artists.
The blatant copying of art for sale, or even to bypass sales, is a problem. Thwarting or preventing new art, new speech, and supportive and passionate fandom is too high a price to pay to combat that problem. Piracy cannot be eradicated any more than theft and fraud have been eradicated. We can’t even agree on the actual damages done by online piracy. Let’s put away the big guns and pull out the magnifying glasses. We must learn what piracy is and does and how to thrive in an era where it can, at best, be minimized.
This is a complex issue that calls for spirited debate and nuance. It’s a matter of vision and creativity. The future of our culture is here already and it’s online.
Please do not support the PROTECT IP Act. Good bills and good laws may yet be composed to minimize the damage done by Internet piracy. Good bills and good laws may be able to help IP creators and developers adapt to the new market, the new audience, the new world. The PROTECT IP Act is not such a bill.
Thank you for your time.