By now, many of you have seen the internet-wide protest of SOPA & PIPA, two bills that threaten the security, stability, and freedom of the internet. The bills seek to stop online piracy by granting unprecedented powers to the US government, powers that would, according to many experts, make the internet as we know it cease to function.
We believe that the internet and the United States were framed with a revolutionary principle in mind: rather than trying to protect people by limiting what they can do, the internet and the US sought to protect people by enabling them. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights do not set forth things that people aren’t allowed to do; they assert many of the things people have a right to do. The pure democracy of the internet follows this pattern: the structure allows for abuse, but enables a greater freedom and the power to fight that abuse.
SOPA and PIPA strive to subvert this paradigm. The entertainment industry has decided that it cannot win if it is fighting on a level playing field with the pirates, so it is asking for more weapons. Unfortunately, that would put the entertainment industry at an advantage over every other player on the field as well, not just the pirates. The game would never be the same.
A Failure To Innovate
The last one to innovate is always the incumbent, the one that ushered in the previous innovation. That is what we’re seeing here. The entertainment industry has always sought to stifle innovation to allow their incumbent (blockbusters) to reign supreme. They fought the introduction of VHS tapes and VCRs, claiming both would kill their industry. So far, their industry has survived.
The entertainment industry and the rights-holders that support SOPA and PIPA need to look at the new landscape provided by the internet, survey it, and find their place in it. The success of services like Rdio, Spotify, and Netflix show that the appeal of piracy isn’t the price, but the convenience. The lack of annoying DRM measures, the ease of “purchase”, and the speed of delivery all make piracy a more appealing option than legitimate purchase for many people. If the entertainment industry threw their weight behind services that worked with the natural order of the internet instead of against it, the piracy problem would shrink dramatically. The internet is not the problem to be mitigated, it is the solution to be embraced.
We Oppose SOPA
We, as rights-holders and consumers, stand opposed to SOPA. We’re phoning all our representatives, writing letters, writing emails, and letting our opposition be known. We are against piracy, but this is not the answer. Changing the natural order of the internet will not destroy piracy, it will destroy the internet.
We hope you’ll stand with us.