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Remain Diligent: SOPA and PIPA Must Be Squashed, Not Changed (fastcompany.com)
189 points by nextparadigms on Jan 14, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments



The author never bothers to explain why SOPA and PIPA are still bad without the DNS provision. Instead, he takes an unyielding position and uses propagandist language to make his point.

It's good to see the EFF explain why the bills are still bad here (last paragraph):

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/01/signs-progress-interne...


The DNS provision has not even been removed, only delayed in implementation until "more study is done on its effects", its a farce, we study the effects of bills before they are passed, not after the fact, where they can implement whatever they want with no recourse.


As the article does not appear to be directed at people who are on the fence or in support of SOPA, I can't blame him for not wasting his time explaining why it's still bad. Preaching to the choir is tedious.


The White House today responded to the two petitions related to SOPA and PIPA.

https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/response/combating-o...

"the Administration calls on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders"

New legal tools aren't needed in the US. If you're going to stop international piracy, you need to encourage other countries to pass DMCA style laws, not anything more draconian like 3-strikes laws. The DMCA has allowed innovation in technology to happen while still providing a method for take-down that results in a judge seeing it if it is contested.

I understand they're trying to find middle ground, but there really is no middle ground to be had. I also contest the idea that it's actually harming jobs. During the economic downturn the media industries have been doing just fine, much better than the rest of the economy. Combating piracy with SOPA and PIPA style laws will not result in an increase in revenue and will almost certainly result in a decrease. It shows a lack of understanding on the part of the White House.


The US cannot force other countries to pass DMCA-style laws. This is not a solution.

You have elided the parts of the White House response where they say not to touch DNS, to use the law with foreign criminal activity rather than domestic activity already covered under US law, and to have strong due process for interventions with ad networks and payment processors.

With those restrictions we are talking about a very different kind of legislation and the issue becomes not the means of enforcement but some kind of principle that piracy should be allowed.


"The US cannot force other countries to pass DMCA-style laws."

False.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/jan/05/us-pressure... (US pressured Spain to implement online piracy law, leaked files show.)(US ambassador threatened Spain with 'retaliation actions' if the country did not pass tough new SOPA-style Internet piracy laws.)(2012-JAN-05)


Why must they be squashed? I'm all for an open internet, freedom of speech and our rights in general. But it still remains that piracy is absolutely rampant on the internet. The other side is not going to back down and they will keep fighting this, indefinitely, and with a very large budget to boot.

It seems to me finding a compromise we can live with is a more realistic solution.


Primarily because there's a tremendous amount of evidence that piracy is a distribution problem, not a legal problem. The issue here is that the media cartels would prefer to buy legislation to let them keep running their antiquated businesses without innovating and use legislation to just squash any challengers. If it was a purely legal problem, iTunes and Netflix wouldn't be kicking ass and making the music and movie/TV publishers so nervous.

I pay for Netflix (and it is responsible for >95% of all my TV/movie consumption) because it's the most convenient way for me to watch movies and TV shows. It's certainly not cheaper than torrenting movies, and I'm a programmer - there's no technical barrier that prevents me from torrenting movies. But I still pay for Netflix rather than torrenting movies because it's convenient, easy, legal, and satisfies my needs. If you can hit the "easy", "affordable", and "satisfactory" points in your distribution scheme, you'll manage to capture a huge number of sales that'd otherwise be lost to piracy.

The issue isn't "piracy", it's lost sales. The two are conflated way too often, and to our collective detriment. Literally nobody is hurt simply by the act of someone making an unauthorized duplication of a series of bytes. The problem is introduced when someone would have otherwise purchased whatever content they just copied. Simply copying files doesn't actually cost anyone anything - otherwise, I could just set up a couple of machines that transfer MP3s back and forth between themselves all day and put the RIAA out of business. The focus should be on "how do we capture lost sales?", rather than "how do we stop all unauthorized copying of our byte-sequences?"

There are a lot of very smart, very successful people in the industry who believe and state that piracy is solved by modernizing distribution, and providing a legal way for people to get your goods that more convenient than the illegal methods. There's a lot of economic data and anecdotal evidence to suggest that they're right.

There is a problem with the sale of counterfeit physical goods on the internet, though, which is an entirely separate problem, which probably needs much more targeted and specific legislation to address it.


Also, copyright was created to foster communication. However, these days it is often used to hinder communication. Media companies and publishers sit on large catalogues that they refuse to (re)publish.

Anecdote: My mother is/was a huge fan of a rather popular U.S. TV show that ran many seasons. It's disappeared from cable reruns, and the studio has refused to issue DVD's. So, my mother can no longer watch that show. (She, and many others, have been waiting patiently for the DVD's for some years.)

Some argue that copyright should not be a means of removing previously publicly, if commercially, available content from public discourse.

In this specific case, I would suggest stripping the rights holder of the copyright and placing the show into the public domain. Publish, for reasonable compensation, or lose the monopoly.

That's what copyright is, a monopoly. Granted by society -- the public, in the U.S. And subject to limitations that public may impose.

I'd suggest the public is increasingly in mind or reining in the ever more extreme monopoly rights that politicians have been corruptly passing in their name.


> But it still remains that piracy is absolutely rampant on the internet.

I don't understand why that is inherently a bad thing. It seems to me that it just indicates the current business model is not working.

I pirate a fair amount of content, and to be honest I think I'm justified in doing so. There is currently no legal way to watch television shows in high quality without commercials on the night they come out. If everything was on Netflix or Amazon Instant Video, I'd pay for it in a heartbeat, and I do pay for a lot of shows.

But as it stands the studios want to cling on to their antiquated broadcast model, and I don't think it is the government's job to protect that.


Suppose (for hypothetical example) that Warner contracts with its distributors not to stream a "Batman" movie until it's been in theaters for a month.

That contract is not unlawful, nor is it immoral. It is not the government's job to block such contracts by declaring it lawful for you to pirate new stuff just because otherwise you would have to pay the theater or wait to see it.

Warner has rights to call the shots on how the "Batman" movie is distributed - in that limited sense they "own" it.

This is the polar opposite of ridiculous "download a car" arguments. I certainly think that public domain should kick in far earlier, that the media industry isn't in real trouble, that RIAA's tactics have made it a sort of copyright secret police against downloaders, etc. but you do not have a special right to pirate the latest thing just because it isn't going to be released fast enough for you unless you pay a premium.


> you do not have a special right to pirate the latest thing just because it isn't going to be released fast enough for you unless you pay a premium.

I am completely willing to pay a premium. There is currently no amount of money I can pay to watch (for example) the new Mission Impossible at home legally.


They do not have full rights to dictate how that film is distributed. This was Sussex out in the early 20th century, when Hollywood studios dictated which theaters could purchase rights to show their films.

Studios have to, by law, distribute their films to any theater willing to purchase the right to display their films. And they can't price it differently depending on which theater chain is purchasing the right to display.

For more on the fight between Hollywood and theaters, read 'The Master Switch.' I'm mobile or I'd link.

Why the same provision isn't extended to digital streaming yet........


I don't think it is a stretch to imagine a perfectly reasonable system of morals where "denying segments of the population access to modern culture" could be considered an immoral act.


This is such a distorted viewpoint. You're complaining that you can't watch a high quality stream of a television show, without ads no less, on the day it comes out. I think there are worst things in life.

Just as much as it's not the government's job to protect an antiquated model, it's also not your job to take the model into your own hands as you see fit. You didn't create that content and have no right to deem how it is distributed.

If studios want to cling to an antiquated model and lose, that's their choice to make. Hopefully other content providers will wake up and continue delivering content in the way consumers want it, where we all win. But people who pirate are making that decision for them, which is total crap.


"I think there are worst things in life."

Strawman. He never said that there were not.


So, if someone sells some item, but not in the format you desire, their rights (of intellectual property or physical property) should be abrogated?

Suppose you go to a store wanting a six-pack of beer, but they only have 24-count cases. Should you have the legal right to open a case, grab six bottles and walk out of the store without paying? Or should the store be required to sell six bottles, or one bottle, at a time? What price should they be required to charge you?


> It seems to me finding a compromise we can live with is a more realistic solution.

No one has ever been able to identify a reasonable legal solution. I, personally, don't believe that one exists. No, I'm not really a fan of OPEN. I don't believe it would actually do anything to end piracy, not that SOPA/PIPA would, either.


We already gave them what they asked for in the DMCA, and now they're back for more. There is no compromise that will suit everyone. I'm not saying abandon copyright, but enforcing it to the degree that they want to is simply not possible without terrifying legislation, because what they want is basically the benefits of copyright without most of the associated limitations (such as having any sort of effort required for big corporations to enforce their copyrights, or for smaller parties to have any option but to capitulate when they are accused).

If we do find a compromise, don't expect the copyright cartel to live with it. They will introduce an even more outrageous bill in five years, and then you'll have to compromise again, and this will repeat until you end up with something much worse than SOPA.


Stop calling it SOPA and PIPA and just call it what it's going to be really abused for

The Great Firewall of America

It's not an exaggeration if it has mission creep like every other tool law enforcement is given.


True, but that would seem an overreaction to people who are only finding out about it on the blackout day.




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