#sopa

Did my position on this issue evolve over the last 12 months? I am not ashamed to admit that it certainly did. The more I became educated on the realities of these issues, the more I came to the realization that a mandated technical solution just isn’t mutually compatible with the health of the Internet.
Former MPAA tech policy chief Paul Brigner speaking to CNET about SOPA.

Reports Declan McCullagh:

Paul Brigner, who was until last month a senior vice president at the Motion Picture Association of America, has emerged as SOPA’s latest critic. “I firmly believe that we should not be legislating technological mandates to protect copyright — including SOPA and Protect IP,” he says.

It would have been better, of course, if he took that position while still with the MPAA. But kudos to Brigner for owning up to the mistake he made and admitting that as he started learning the facts, he could no longer support bullshit like SOPA.

Hunter Walk and Eric Ries brought together a pretty killer group of contributors — including yours truly — for a good cause: supporting the open internet. 

Uncensored is an eBook featuring a collection of blog posts on a range of topics. They’re asking you pay at least $4.99 (and suggesting a payment of $9.99), with all of the profits are being donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation

You can buy it here through Leanpub. It comes in either PDF, ePub (iPad, Nook), or MOBI (Kindle) format.

The best way to describe the project is what Walk told the San Jose Mercury News: “We sort of view this of this as the tech blogger equivalent of the benefit album.”

Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman of Freakonomics discuss the claims that piracy leads to $250 billion a year in loses and 750,000 American jobs lost:

The good news is that the numbers are wrong — as this post by the Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez explains. In 2010, the Government Accountability Office released a report noting that these figures “cannot be substantiated or traced back to an underlying data source or methodology,” which is polite government-speak for “these figures were made up out of thin air.” 

And:

So what’s the real number? At this point, we simply don’t know. And this leads us to a second problem: one which is not so much about data, as about actual economic effects.  There are certainly a lot of people who download music and movies without paying. It’s clear that, at least in some cases, piracy substitutes for a legitimate transaction — for example, a person who would have bought the DVD of the new Kate Beckinsale vampire film (who is that, actually?) but instead downloads it for free on Bit Torrent. In other cases, the person pirating the movie or song would never have bought it. This is especially true if the consumer lives in a relatively poor country, like China, and is simply unable to afford to pay for the films and music he downloads.  

Do we count this latter category of downloads as “lost sales”?  Not if we’re honest. 

Kill Hollywood, Not Movies

The fallout from the failure of SOPA and PIPA is just as interesting as the main topics themselves. First, many on the web with loud voices are finally waking up to how corrupt the lobbying/political system is in this country. Second, directly-related, there’s a quickly growing anti-Hollywood sentiment.

The most forceful stance has to be Y Combinator putting out a new RFS (Request for Startups) will one goal: Kill Hollywood

It’s an important statement and message given the bullshit the MPAA is up to. But it’s also important to separate film, the artform, from Hollywood, the industry.

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Those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.

MPAA head (and former U.S. Senator) Chris Dodd speaking to Fox News (as noted by Hillicon Valley).

I mean, he actually said this.

In one soundbite, he’s both threatening any and all U.S. politicians and implying that they’re corruptible. It’s a statement that so egregious, it’s hard to think of anything worse he could have said. Maybe: “if these guys don’t start supporting whatever we say, I’m going to hire some goons to fucking kneecap the bastards”.

But actually, that’s not worse. Because that doesn’t imply the politicians accept bribes (in the form of lobbying money) to support issues.

This is much, much worse than Dodd’s assclownish statement the other day. And it also shows that Dodd really, truly does not understand what’s going on — why people are so upset about these bills and the subsequent reaction to them, as Mike Masnick lays out perfectly.

Amazingly, this discussion is morphing beyond the destruction of the fabric of the Internet and into the underlying notion that our political system is fundamentally corrupt

The MPAA should fire Chris Dodd immediately. Of course, they won’t — because in a year (when he’ll be far enough removed from his Senate term to officially lobby) he’ll be the best lobbyist ever. At that point, he’ll be able to do it behind the scenes (with people he served alongsides for decades), and not with fucked up statements like this. 

Marco Arment has this exactly right. We may have beaten these variations of SOPA and PIPA, but the sad fact of that matter is that they — or something like them — will eventually pass. 

Obviously, all things being equal, such bills should never pass. But all things aren’t equal. As with most things, this is actually all about money. The MPAA and the other content lobbies are going to continue to pump money into this until they get what they want.

And again, they will. Consider this: SOPA and PIPA came this close to passing with MPAA head Chris Assclown Dodd banned from direct lobbying. Why is he banned? Because there’s a law that requires politicians to be two years out of office before they can lobby.

Dodd vacated his U.S. Senate seat on January 3, 2011. In a year, he’ll be able lobby all he wants. He’ll be able to directly buy the support of all his former colleagues. He spent 36 years in Washington as both a Senator and Congressman. You think that doesn’t matter? He’s going to be the best lobbyist ever. Which is exactly why the MPAA picked him. 

Arment’s hope that people stop supporting the MPAA by stopping watching films clearly isn’t going to happen. But the idea of supporting campaign finance reform to eliminate bullshit lobbying is a good one.