Stop SOPA (and PIPA)

Stop PIPA, too.SophSoft, Incorporated opposes SOPA legislation.

You may have noticed that today several sites have “gone black” to various degrees.  You need look no further than the main page of Google (on January 18, 2012) to see a good example.

The reason for this is to draw attention to the dangers of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives, and its counterpart in the U.S. Senate, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

We at SophSoft, Incorporated oppose these acts because, despite the ostensible goal, namely to stop computer piracy (a laudable aim, which we fully support), if SOPA and/or PIPA were to become law, they would fundamentally change the free nature of the internet, while doing little of substance to prevent actual piracy.

The rise of the internet has been the most important cultural shift in the past two decades, bar none, and it has been a catalyst for change throughout the world.  These bills could reverse that progress by allowing sites to be blocked in the United States without due process, and it shifts the burden of policing users to legitimate sites, requiring defacto censorship.  It also provides a blunt tool for unethical practices against online competitors or, in the best case scenario, merely (in essence) assigns much of the control of the internet (in the US) to large media corporations.

One of the most troubling aspects of these acts is that they show a profound lack of understanding of the actual issues, and without due process of law, there would be no opportunity for one to make a case, nor even to correct a misunderstanding.  The “fair use doctrine” is not a bright line rule that is always clear, and these acts could force a company out of business simply because of a complaint about the fair use of an item, or due to an errant blog comment with a bad link (or a good link that was compromised later), nevermind the threat of simple malicious complaints.

Here is a very realistic scenario:  Your sister-in-law gets a tattoo of Winnie the Pooh (Disney artwork) on her butt and thinks it would be fun to post a picture of the tattoo on Facebook; legalities of the tattoo notwithstanding, the litigious owners of Disney find a link to said picture, file a complaint, and Facebook itself could be shut down.

Another example, just for good measure:  A small company like ours produces a game and includes background music contracted legitimately from an artist who is fully paid for his work; EMI decides that one measure sounds a little too similar to something from one of their artists, files a complaint, and our website is blocked.

Clearly, SOPA and PIPA are very dangerous approaches to resolving a significant problem for those of us in the software industry (though, in truth, the acts are still all about protecting large media conglomerates).  If Congress really wants to help the problem, it could provide an expedited legal process for suing those who deliberately infringe copyrights, perhaps with a schedule of default judgment amounts, so small companies could afford to go after the real pirates.  I have no problem with a court shuttering a proven pirate website, but the government already has that power.

For different takes on this issue, please see the Wikipedia and Google (“End Piracy, Not Liberty“) responses.

Finally, let me simply say that any U.S. bills that would use the same methods as those used by the governments of China, Iran, and Syria to suppress political dissent, and are rabidly supported by Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp saw nothing wrong with tapping phones and illegally listening in to private phone conversations (until they were caught), are definitely to be avoided.

 

Happy New Year 2012!

Best wishes from all of us here at Digital Gamecraft.

 

The upcoming year corresponds to the Chinese Year of the Dragon, which should make it ideal for productivity, growth, and success.  Less mystically, 2012 is going to be our year of connection, as we continue to build our online presence and social network, both professionally and personally.

At the turn of the year, it is traditional to look forward into the future, and we will doing this in the coming days, as well as honestly assessing our performance over the past 12 months.  Expect some more significant activity on this blog in the coming days.  In the meantime…

Happy New Year!

 

End Of Year Wind-Down

Digital Gamecraft wraps up business for 2010.

As the holidays arrive at the end of the year, and the beginning of the next, Digital Gamecraft and SophSoft, Incorporated traditionally take off the two weeks that encompass this period of time.  Since Christmas and New Years Day both fall on Saturdays, we were confronted with a decision to either work right up until Christmas Eve, taking off the entire first week of 2011, or to adjourn (and return) a week earlier.  Armed with an incorrect assumption (about federal holidays in the US), the PTB decided on the former, so we depart tomorrow [Friday, December 24] and return to work (officially) on January 10, 2011.  It actually worked out well because we were not yet ready to wrap up business last week.  (In truth, our beta testers will still be seeing activity from me, personally, throughout the official shut down, and our Director of Operations has to come in to run payroll.)

Anyway, despite the absence of most federal employees in observation of Christmas (a day early), we will still be in the office tomorrow; however, there is no reason to lament.  The morning will be dedicated to light work and final preparations for the end of the year, and then the afternoon will be devoted to our holiday party, in which we and our families will gather ’round and play board and card games (away from computers), enjoying various snacks and drinks, along with ample holiday spirit.  (This is a tradition unabashedly borrowed from one at Spectrum HoloByte, enhanced somewhat in our own ways, and minus a visit from Santa Claus, at least this year.)  Of course, the easy workload on Friday means more work for me on Thursday, so…

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

[from A Visit from St. Nicholas, by Clement Clark Moore (of course)]

Thanksgiving Day 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Every year, we take the opportunity on Thanksgiving Day (in the United States) to consider the reasons we are thankful, especially concerning events of the previous year.  At our house, everybody has the opportunity to mention personal reasons for being thankful, just before we tear into the big Thanksgiving feast.  At our company, I often write the business reasons for being thankful right here…

This year, I am especially thankful that SophSoft, Incorporated is doing better than ever.  We are now in our tenth year collaborating with Goodsol Development, and our Digital Gamecraft division is busy preparing releases for early 2011.  In terms of releases during this year, we have already had a record bounty, with 22 public releases, including two new products (with 3 SKUs), 5 major upgrades, and 14 product updates:

Coming in December, we plan another major update (Pretty Good Solitaire Mac Edition 2.2, already in beta), a version of PGSME available via the Mac App Store (review currently pending), and our first title on the Apple iPad (at least one more SKU, in alpha testing).  Internally, we have been making significant infrastructure and process improvements for even greater productivity (and success) moving into next year.

One personal reason for being thankful, omitted at the dining table, was the fantastic performance of the Michigan State University football teamGo Spartans!