Saturday, January 14, 2012

I support SOPA

Although there are some semi-legitimate concerns about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), my personal feeling is that SOPA is a good step in the right direction for protecting intellectual property in this age of the Internet and World Wide Web. A fair amount of the more virulent opposition to SOPA comes from the anti-globalism, anti-capitalism crowd, as epitomized by the Occupy movement (notably its Occupy Wall Street (OWS) subsidiary), and is based primarily on opposition to the very concept of intellectual property (IP). I simply don't support their efforts, on the whole, even if on occasion they do make a few good points. If they want to reform and refine the system, great, fine, have at it, but they seem obsessed with demonizing the system and committed to either subvert it if not completely overturn it.
The legitimate concern is that sometimes well-meaning people or businesses (or non-profits or even governmental institutions) will make mistakes and inadvertently infringe on somebody's alleged intellectual property rights and then have hell to pay for it. I'm sure that we will stumble onto occasional horror stories where best intentions go awry, but overall I really do think that most well-meaning people and firms will do the right things and things will work out. Just because the system may fail on occasion is not a reasonable argument against the system overall.
It appears to me that most of the opposition to SOPA by Internet service vendors is simply that enforcement of SOPA will be an added cost and a pain for them. I accept that SOPA may in fact increase their expenses, but nobody has provided any evidence that such costs would likely be prohibitive or even anything other than merely incidental. Intellectual property is a fact of life and any Internet service vendor should by now have a budget for assuring that they and their users do not maliciously or inadvertently fail to respect intellectual property rights. It is not that they don't believe in IP, but that IP is an inconvenient distraction.
As far as the argument that SOPA will result in censorship, I find that argument completely empty and without merit. The concept of censorship is based on the actual content of the message, not the form of the message. I think the issue here is that some people want to illegally re-use or re-purpose the content of others and consider efforts to thwart that desire as censorship, which is a completely nonsensical argument. Parody and fair use are still legal, so the censorship claim is empty. The censorship claim simply amounts to yet another smokescreen which is an appeal to emotion to cover up for the underlying disbelief in the very concept of intellectual property.
And if there are bugs in the legislation, I'm sure we will quickly find out and they can be fixed. But I simply do not buy the argument that since the legislation might have speculative negative side effects that it should not be enacted at all.
So, let people provide their input, Congress can then adjust the legislation as they, as representatives of the people, see fit, President Obama can sign it, and we can all move forward.
But this idea of the critics that SOPA will kill or cripple the Internet is just complete nonsense that is simply a smokescreen to cover for their true, anti-intellectual capital, anti-business, anti-capitalism intentions.


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