Dear Seán Sherlock, TD RE: Ireland’s SOPA

Dear Seán,

Thanks for the 10 minute Dáil debate on your Statutory Instrument. How many people were there for it? I counted 10. 1 for every minute you spent debating this Internet censorship Copyright Law. A law that could potentially affect every single Irish Internet user. A law that could and, let’s face it, will be used by large music companies to force ISPs to block access to websites that they fear are being used for piracy.

First off, I’m all for protecting copyrighted material. I believe those copyright holders should be compensated for the work and effort put into making the material. What I don’t believe in, however, is the manner in which this law is being proposed and put through. It’s undemocratic to believe  using secondary legislation loopholes to push through a bill that is so vague and open to interpretation and abuse is the best way to go about this.

Because it’s not just The Pirate Bay and other torrent and download websites that will be affected by this. The legislation in its current state can be used by the big businesses to gain court orders for ISPs to block Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google and any or all other websites if they prove even one of its users (they’re not just in Ireland, folks) breaches this law. And what if Pop Culture Monster happens to link to a YouTube video that happens to breach this copyright amendment? Can we be blocked? Why, yes, we can. Because casting the net so wide like this is a bad decision and every website, no matter how legitimate,  is under threat.

You seem to wholeheartedly believe that you are doing this in the interest of protecting these large businesses. These businesses who are so short-sighted that they honestly believe that illegal downloads are the main cause of a huge decline in CD sales. Tell me, Seán, when was the last time you bought a CD? Who hears a song and thinks “gotta get me to Golden Disks to get that banging tune!”? Nobody does. They go to iTunes or Amazon MP3 or Bandcamp or one of the countless other legal download websites. Or they stream them on YouTube or Spotify or SoundCloud. The Internet is the future of everything. And I’m not about to lay down and let you shut off my access to it.

The strangest part of all this is that this bill is being pushed ahead even though the Government is preparing an overhaul of the current copyright legislation. So it’s difficult to believe you when you say you’re trying to comply with a European-wide legislation introduced several years ago without effect.

This Statutory Instrument could also affect thousands and thousands of jobs, and the future of jobs for any graduates hoping to gain employment in new media outlets. The European headquarters of Facebook, Twitter and Google are in this fair isle. We are known all around the world for our IT and technology sectors. This bill may force companies like Google and Facebook to pull out of Ireland and it will take all those jobs with it. Do you really want to potentially cause the loss of thousands of jobs because you’re closed-minded on this issue? Ireland would become a really unattractive place for any multi-national company to set up shop. Ireland would never recover from the recession and that would be because of you.

You’ve caved ever so slightly now, agreeing to a full Dáil debate “before signing the bill”. I hope that this means that you are open to debate and will decide, through an Oireachtas vote, whether or not to implement it and not that you will debate it and sign it regardless. I also hope that the 60,000 signatures (and growing) on the website urging you not to sign will help convince you further.

What we need now is for you to wait, patiently. The new copyright laws are being drawn up. Wait for them. And integrate a narrower and more focused version of your Statutory Instrument that doesn’t curb and limit freedom on the Internet; that won’t force businesses to take themselves elsewhere; that won’t limit creativity; and that won’t give rights of censorship by large bull-headed businesses.


Pop Culture Monster Staff

Dear reader,

If this letter has done anything to convince you this proposed Statutory Instrument is a bad idea. Please show your support and sign the petition at You can also contact Seán Sherlock directly using any of these outlets:

Phone him: 0877402057 / 022-53523
Email him: or Tweet him: @seansherlocktd
Snail-mail him: Davis Lane, Mallow, Co. Cork.

I urge you not to let this man take away your freedom on the Internet. Support the cause and help us Stop SOPA Ireland. You can join the debate on Twitter using the hashtags #SOPAIreland and #StopSOPAIreland.

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V – A Tale of Terror