The PIPA/SOPA-pera: Hollywood Versus Silicon Valley

Protect IP Act (PIPA), emanating from the U.S. Senate, and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), from the U.S. House of representatives, have unleashed activism on a major scale. Disgusted by the lack of forethought in the construct of these two bills, major web-site operators initiated black-outs that spawned angry phone calls, e-mails, and telegrams to Congressional representatives. When initially introduced, these bills had significant bi-partisan support and many co-sponsors. The groundswell of constituent anger, however, caused a major retreat, with Senators and Representatives withdrawing their support of the bills, and their sponsorship as well.

The bills, aimed at stopping copyright infringement, have been supported by media companies, including record labels, TV networks, movie studios, and book publishers. Opponents come from the tech sector. An open letter to Washington, speaking out against the legislation, was signed by founders of Craigslist, eBay, Google, Mozilla, Twitter, and Wikipedia, among others.

Why the opposition against a, seemingly, just cause? The answer is that the bills are punitive in nature, and provide the means for the government to shut down legitimate businesses, without proper safeguards.

It seems that Congress, simply, wrote poor legislation. Punitive actions, aimed at modifying behavior in today’s tech-savvy marketplace, don’t stand up to innovative business models for the managing and protection of content and associated copyrights. The bills may not see the light of day until such consideration is given.

Leave a Reply