ACTA, SOPA, PIPA, CISPA
It seems like the big players of the software and hardware industry are dead set to bring to life an incarnation of one of these laws. Never before in the history of computing has a piece of legislation been pushed forward so ferociously by so many significant companies.
The core of the law is mostly the same, and the name doesn't even matter anymore since it masquerades under so many acronyms. Of course ACTA is an international agreement, while SOPA, PIPA, CISPA are US bills. But once either of these is adopted, slightly modified versions will spread around the globe and will be adopted by other countries as well.
So it seems that no matter the number of protests, they will keep pushing them forward under different names. A lot of internet users are aware at this moment of one form or another of these bills, thanks to folks like Google and Wikipedia who brought mass awareness, but also thanks to individuals and lobbyists who spread the word. So there is not a lack of awareness.
Sadly, I don't think there is much we can do. We could boycott one company after another, like Maddox proposes and hit them right in the money. If we manage to do this, it might prove effective for a while and one or two companies might even go out of business. But in the long run the bill will pass and drastic measures will be taken. ISPs will be turned into copyright cops and SOPA supporting companies into big bad wolves.
Look, the truth is that we pirate stuff. We pirate games, music, movies, tv shows, books and whatnot. This has got to stop at some point, we can't just pirate media indefinitely. If we want to be civil and honest we must pay content creators for their sweat and blood, so they can create more of the things we love.
The problem is that only a (very) small percent of the money makes it to the content creators. Most of it ends up in MPAA and RIAA's pockets. And they provide little value for that large percent which they keep for themselves. They do not provide modern channels of media delivery, they do not provide fair prices and they do not let us manage our own legally bought media by enforcing draconian DRM schemes.
They are outdated. They hold on to their old ways of doing business and are very afraid of this whole thing called the Internet. If it were for them Blu-ray discs with heavy DRM would be the only way of distributing content. Oh, and the Internet would only be a poster for advertising their brick and mortar shops.
This has got to change. We need better distribution channels, we want to buy songs and movies from anywhere in the world, delivered instantly and available for consumption on any device we own. If Bittorrent is such a great technology for delivering media, why not use it for delivering your own content to end users? We need more flexible and fair pricing schemes. If private Bittorrent trackers are such a success, why not make one where you actually buy ratio and then spend it on any content you like? The monetization possibilities are endless, you just need to give your users something so advantageous that it would make pirating look like an unattractive option. DRM is also a big issue since you don't feel like you own the content. They own it and they can erase it from your device at any given moment. We need to own it. Maybe it's more of a psychological need than anything else.
I'm sure big media companies could manage to create any of these outlets for consumption. The only thing keeping them from doing so is themselves. Until these issues are solved we will keep pirating for as long as we can. Because pirating solves these practical issues, even though it does not address the ethical part.