Posted by: Brad Stanford | January 18, 2012

SOPA/PIPA – What’s The Deal?

Here’s a question presented to me on Facebook:

Allow me to play devil’s advocate as I really don’t know who’s right here. I guess being against SOPA and PIPA could also mean you want to continue to let China steal our copyrights, patents, and intellecutal property then sell it back to us at half price? Are Google and other companies against this because of freedom of speech or because they don’t want to interrupt the revenue they receive from this piracy and be required to enforce these rules? Is corporate greed found in favoring or opposing these rules. Just wanted to offer up an alternative view….


Great thoughts. Here’s what I see as the real issue:

Media companies refuse to adjust their business models for the times. They want to remain the gatekeepers of content and distribution like “the good old days”. They want to put the burden (price) of their own stubbornness on everyone else. In essence, they’re saying: “We refuse to invest in keeping our businesses up to date and competitive, so everyone else is going to have to be guilty until proven innocent.” And in an effort to get their way, they care not what it does to everyone else.

Further, the method they want to use is quit nuclear. Let’s look at some history:

In 1992, they wanted Congress to prevent the making and free distribution of mixtapes. Instead, Congress said that sharing for free is legally fine, and sharing for money was not. This made the media companies furious, as they pay those Congresspeople well to not do such things. Fail.

Next, the media companies tried to prevent your hardware from being able to copy things. That didn’t work because it is the very nature of digital things to move bits around. Fail again.

Then, they took YouTube and Napster to court. While they did ok, they discovered that the burden of proof is quite expensive, and the PR is not so good. Fail.

Now, they’re saying, “Fine! If we can’t be the controllers of content, then no one else gets to be either!” So what we really have on our hands is a very unruly child who doesn’t understand the current world and how to live in it telling the rest of us how to live in it.

The best way to fight piracy is offer something that pirates can’t. Offer an experience that pirates can’t even hope to replicate. Better yet, harness the freemium model (let priacy do your selling for you). In truth, it’s what we already have, they just haven’t figured it out yet.

The days of cowering before corporations because they’ve had their business model defeated are over. As for one, I will not let them break the best (and deepest) thing about this world – sharing with one another, and creating new content on top of old – simply because time has passed some old guys up, and they’re crying about it. They can suck it up like the rest of us and figure out life as it comes.

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