SOPA/PIPA Follow Up
If you happened to visit my blog on the 18th you know that I participated in the SOPA/PIPA black out. I was firmly on the opposition side because those bills are are simply bad policy. They are vague, burdensome of distributors, cruel in punishment, and lack judicial oversight. In fact, had they passed, I'm sure the resulting law would have been struck down in a fairly quick court challenge of constitutionality.
As a 25 year old that is socialized to Internet culture, there are a few generational/cultural divides that I observed during the public debate on SOPA/PIPA. These divides have come up in the past, they will come up again, and understanding them will be key to developing online intellectual property policy:
- Remix vs Hollywood - The backlash to SOPA was so strong because, in part, a whole culture felt threatened by a powerful industry from a different culture. Internet culture, and by extension the culture of Millennials, lives and breathes on remixing existing IP as a form of expression. Thus, many saw this bill as an attack on their form of expression.
- Market of Ease - Netflix and iTunes have done more this decade to curtail piracy than law or the RIAA/MPAA because they developed a business model from the consumer perspective. They knew that consumers wanted and expected easy and cheap access to media in the Internet age, and have been wildly successful because they are selling this ease of access to consumers. What happens when the industry does not sell easy access but instead dictates obstacles that a consumer must overcome? The consumer becomes a customer of pirates, because the ease of access offering of pirates is superior to anything else on the market. In the wake of the MegaUpload takedown it has been astonishing to see how many people outside of the US relied on pirating sites for access to American media because, in many international markets, there is no other provider of easy access to media.