SOPA: Balancing anti-piracy legislation

Western society is indoctrinated to be anti-piracy. We see it here on The Escapist with non-ironic headlines such as Lawyer Destroys Arguments for Game Piracy[1] and Sweden Formally Recognizes Piracy as Religion[2]. Heck, if someone on this site advocates widespread software distribution too much, they can easily get banhammered by the moderators.

My position, which I've noted elsewhere, is that of James Madison's as he explains in The Federalist Papers, namely that we are all bastards[3]. Make it too easy to pirate, and you have a 90+% piracy rate. Make it too difficult, however, and the publishers start taking extra bites of the apple[4] We saw this early on when Microsoft was a dick about its Vista release, and we're seeing it now with the current campaign against secondary sales.

But this said, SOPA and PROTECT-IP raise the greater question: where is the balance? If the RIAA and MPAA had their way, we'd never have CDs or VCRs or MP3s. Here in the US, they successfully suppressed DATs, and that feels to me a bit like big oil suppressing fuel-efficient engines. It's certainly contrary to innovation, though in favor of big media making money.

The whole point of copyright and patent laws is to incourage innovation by allowing an inventor to prosper from his invention, but we're getting to the point where there's clear incidents of copyright protections being used to suppress innovation. Legal expression has already been chilled by big media abusing their power, so their position of privilege needs to be better controlled, rather than extended to include greater powers.

So the question is: what do we do about piracy, and can we make everyone happy about it, or are we always going to be playing legislative tug-of-war?


[1] Er... no, he reiterates some common counters to commonly made but weak arguments
[2] Not quite. Kopimism dictates that information sharing is a sacred act, much as the torrent community regards seeding a given torrent as a community service (when above and beyond a 1.0 ratio). Most information sharing on the web is legal and doesn't violate someone's intellectual property rights. It is only because we've been trained not to copy that floppy that we presume that sharing = piracy until proven otherwise.
[3] More accurately, that we all can be bastards. Humans are actually really nice folks except when we're broke, hungry, overfatigued, mistreated, lonely, surrounded by strange folk or panicking due to natural disaster.
[4] Requiring re-purchases with every new version or new format (LP-CD, DVD-Blu Ray, Old DRM, New DRM), allowing licenses to expire, omitting content for future microsales, piping in advertising, invading privacy, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

Ok, I agree that SOPA and PIPA go too far.
They enable a website to be taken down on a whim, at the mere whiff of potential copyright infringement.

However, I hesitate to group in with the anti-SOPA groups, because I have yet to hear an alternative given.
People and corporations should have the right to protect their intellectual property and website owners do need to be more active in monitoring the content of (or links from) their sites.

I do not think that Youtube should be taken down because a minority (or even if it were a majority) uploaded copyrighted material.
I do however believe that Youtube should help monitor and remove copyrighted material at the request of the owner of said material. Of course it was my understanding that they already do this.

Torrent sites are the bigger problem. Yes they can be used for perfectly legitimate purposes. But it is also used for piracy. Like it or not, piracy is illegal. Its illegal because if you don't own the rights to the material, or have permission from those who do, you have no right to distribute it. This is the way it is and should be.

Again, I'm not of the belief that [insert torrent site here] should be shut down for the actions of their users. But if a site's owners refuse to cooperate to eliminate pirated media, then it shows they are more interested in enabling piracy, than they are in running a legitimate website.

I'm not hugely tech saavy, but would it honestly take a great deal of effort to create a program which searches torrent links on these sites, and removes any links which match specific criteria.

-If a link says its "Crysis 2 Full No CD crack" etc. then it shouldn't be there.
-If it just says "Crysis 2" there's room for doubt, but if there is a Crysis 2 file size that's on record, it can be compared and eliminated accordingly.

So again, and hopefully before people jump down my throat. I am not for SOPA or PIPA. I do not want to see websites taken down without any form of trial or for actions that aren't their own.
What I do want to see is an act that helps reduce piracy without the ridiculous power grab.

The internet is a world wide thing. Its the world wide web. And yet I see people saying "this guy/site shouldnt be punished because its not illegal where they are". But the internet wasn't made so we can commit crimes annonymously, from the comfort of our chairs, feeling safe knowing that the person who's shit we just stole (or acquired illegally for those who get up in arms about that word) is across an ocean and can't touch us.

I don't think there should be an internet police (well I do but I know it wouldn't work) but I do think those with a vested interest in the internet and what it is capable of should be working together.
Refusal to work together should remove any rights to protection. Whether that be a torrent site refusing to help remove piracy, or a corporation trying to enforce excessive strangleholds over the slightest issues of infringement.

I think the very concept of having some sweeping legislation to "deal with" piracy is inherently flawed. People shoplift all the time, but you don't see anybody rushing to deal with it by making some sort of law that instates mandatory full body scans or body searches every time you exit a store. People get raped, mugged, kidnapped, and all sorts of horrible things after dark, but nobody is saying we should deal with it by instating some sort of government-sanctioned curfew. You deal with a crime after it's happened, not before. Those at risk should take whatever precautions are necessary, but every store will always be at risk of shoplifting and every person who goes out after dark will always be at risk of getting hurt. And everybody knows this. So why is it so hard for so many to accept the fact that there will always be a risk of piracy?


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