This blog is primarily about the political landscape and process. So this post falls a bit off topic. However, given my involvement with technology and digital rights management issues, I feel compelled to weigh in on this one.
Congress is debating and a bill (ok, a law buried in other legislation) dubbed SOPA – or “Stop Online Piracy Act.”
I understand the sentiment. The internet, and many of the fundamental underlying technologies (including the computers we are all typing on) are a classic example of a disruptive force. Existing content authors, whether that content is imagery, moving imagery (films), music, research and writing, etc., face a common problem.
If content has no value, then there is obviously no motivation to produce quality content, and that is a huge problem. If the world if flat, meaning all data is universally accessible, what is the motivation to create? As a content producer myself I am perplexed by this problem. I am not suggesting that I have the solution, but I can spot a bad solution when I see one.
It is rather ironic that one of the shining examples of the creativity of the free market (the computer itself, and the commercial revolution that is the online world) is ushering in a new sort of socialism. Think about that.
I think a legislative solution is the wrong approach, plain and simple. There are already applicable laws, and a judicial system of redress. These are largely ineffectual of course, as the majority of piracy occurs at low levels in a distributed fashion making it difficult to combat using the legal system.
Which is precisely why I believe we need to look to the next innovative leap for a solution. People want content on their terms. The recording industries historic error in not adapting to this led a little company called Apple to eat their lunch, through a technology based solution to allow users to get the content they want, largely on the terms they want, at a ‘bite sized’ cost.
We haven’t figured it out yet, but I assure you that such a solution exists, and if given the opportunity, some smart person will deploy that solution. I can assure you, however, that this smart person does not go to work on capitol hill.