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SOPA, PIPA, and Us

posted by Bob Lawless

Given what a small part of the web we are, it seemed a little melodramatic for Credit Slips to go dark over the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA). It did seem appropriate at least to add my own voice to the opposition.

If you are not familiar with these heavy-handed attempts to police intellectual property piracy, plenty of information is available from Wikipedia here (and, yes, that link still works today, January 18). Some of the provisions in these acts could have implications for small sites such as this.

Although the government should stop the theft of intellectual property, these proposed laws go way too far, sacrificing too much freedom in the name of property rights. In particular, it disappoints me that some senators who have been champions of consumer protection have put themselves on the wrong side of this issue. Specifically, Senators Patrick Leahy, Sherrod Brown, Dick Durbin, Charles Schumer, Al Franken, and Sheldon Whitehouse are listed on THOMAS as sponsors or co-sponsors of PIPA (S. 968). It would be great to see these senators lead a retreat from these onerous pieces of legislation.

Those are my personal views as blog administrator. And, that is probably a point we don't emphasize enough on this blog -- everyone is speaking for himself or herself only.


Some Republicans are pulling their support.


Former senator Dodd appeared on Morning Joe and was asked his opinion of the Wyden-Issa OPEN bill. OPEN addresses the problem without tampering with the internet. It uses the International Trade Commission to investigate foreign sites and block payment to the perpetrators behind infringing sites. IIRC, he said it was unacceptable because of something about payment systems moving offshore. I think his argument was specious because the money has to somehow leave the US and can be blocked from moving to an offshore payment system.

The problem is that the entertainment industry uses technology (digital and otherwise) to advance their businesses. But when they do, any related technology they can’t control becomes threatening to their business models. So they move to control all technology related to theirs. This has been going on for years and needs to be ended. They need to continuously adapt their business models to the advance of technology. They have done so when forced, and eventually found it profitable. For example, they bitterly fought the VCR and then made lots of money selling pre-recorded tapes. They simply need to develop a new business paradigm of continuous adaptation.

Businesses that use technology and develop proprietary business models based on that technology have no right to expect innovation and advancement of technology to be blocked to preserve the viability of their business models. Society has a right to expect such businesses to adapt their business models to accommodate innovation and advancement of technology.

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