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Tech Wizard Dissects SOPA

TAI’s tech wizard and associate publisher Damir Marusic spent three years of his childhood in North Korea.  Perhaps inspired by that experience, he has a great essay on the SOPA and PIPA bills currently being considered in Congress.

But even if some sort of overreaching bill is inevitable, the fight against it is not futile. SOPA and PIPA are bad news as written, and all efforts at gelding them are worthy; even partial success should be applauded on the merits. More important than removing troubling provisions is the process of clearly and articulately explaining to voters the value of what legislators and media conglomerates so fear: the internet’s disruptive power. Unfortunately, in the course of the battle over SOPA, opponents have allowed a consensus opinion to emerge around exactly the opposite point.

If you haven’t already seen it, take a look here.

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  • Anthony

    Great article and ends with inevitable marketplace conflict – innovation, regulation, disruption, and challenges to status quo.

  • Jim.

    If they had to choose between Hollywood withering away and the Web withering away, I suspect most people would miss Hollywood a whole lot less.

    Lots of legislators dropped their support for these bills as a result of the protests. While the author’s pessimistic take is plausible, I don’t believe it’s inevitable in the least.

  • Damir Marusic

    I certainly hope I’m proven wrong about my pessimism. Today was indeed a very good day in setting this legislation back. But my pessimism is rooted in the amount of money arrayed on the side of the copyright holders, and my doubts in the ability of Silicon Valley to sustain the outrage of the public.

    Meanwhile, the very premise of the debate has already shifted to favor the pro-SOPA crowd: something must be done about all this intellectual property theft.

    The happiest way forward is if the Valley folk come up with some reasonable approaches that preserve the dynamism of the net. This article at the indispensable ArsTechnica sketches out some interesting suggestions along those lines.

  • Jim.

    “Something Must Be Done”… the trouble with this battle-cry is that every time something is tried, (DRM, etc) it ranges from inconvenient to painful to radically reducing the rights of media buyers, and media buyers understand this. A hue and cry is raised on the part of consumers whenever one of these ham-fisted methods is imposed, and in most cases it leads to the method being rescinded.

    I suspect this pattern (impose-rescind, impose-rescind) could stay in place until the market discovers a means of delivering, protecting, and pricing content that actually takes advantage of the efficiencies of digital distribution and gives consumers what they want without giving Big Business all the power of Big Brother.

    Or, it could be that legacy media are the buggy-whip manufacturers of the 21st century.

    The new paradigm: Information is a service, not a product, and must be marketed accordingly. RIAA and MPA must adjust, or die.

  • Jordan

    The big media companies threw their weight and cash around. Unfortunately they ran into tech companies who can throw far more weight around and have far, far more cash. And as a previous commented aptly said, people will miss the web more than Hollywood.

    RIAA/MPA are quite Blue Model and they too are being slowly killed off. Yet another industry where high paying executive jobs — and I think high paying acting/talent jobs — will go away. Score another one for the software developers.

    And now they’ve set their sights on the textbook industry…

    Believe me, we are far from over with all of this business.

  • Jeremy, Alabama

    A controlled internet is even more inevitable than Mr Marusic says in his excellent article. There are at least 2 more important (to government) drivers: national security, and taxes.

    – national security: the advent of Stuxnet has terrified government and public entities at all levels. Utilities are in the midst of a mad race to improve the security of their plant and systems. Defense and intelligence agencies flop between total lockdowns during which nothing gets done, and trying to ease restrictions during which everything gets stolen.

    – but it is taxes that is the real driver. Internet commerce is now large, on its way to very large, and it is to all practical purposes a black market. Governments of all types across all epochs have always treated the loss of revenue as an existential threat.

    The continuance of the internet as an anonymous medium is absolutely limited. Trust me on this: within 5 years, every site that you visit will have been tracked by govt, the govt will be hacked, and all that data will be released, and tied to a user through an IP (even temporary ones). The govt will know what taxes you owe, and everyone will know what their neighbors do with their bandwidth.

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