Join the protest against SOPA/PIPAPosted: January 16, 2012
Should these bills become law a new power structure will form that can decide on our behalf where and how we participate on the Internet. The n0tice team believes that is anathema to the open Internet and that it should be stopped.
As noted by EFF: “There are already laws and procedures in place for taking down sites that violate the law. These acts would allow the US Attorney General, and even individuals, to create a blacklist to censor sites when no court has found that they have infringed copyright or any other law.”
We think this is bad for people and bad for business.
Open systems like the Internet create space for many different things to happen. The network has changed the way we learn, what we know and how we know it, social structures and who we communicate with, political engagement and awareness, new business models, new economic structures, personal artistic expression, and on and on and on.
And while many of the outcomes of open systems are positive, human nature’s dark side will undoubtedly appear in any space where many people gather, too.
What to do about bad behavior on the Internet?
We believe the role of law and politics in an open environment like the Internet should not be to create weapons for fighting bad behavior but rather to set boundaries and to mediate acceptable behavior.
As Joi Ito of MIT Media Lab stated in a letter SOPA and PIPA would:
- supersede the “notice and takedown” method of policing for copyrighted material on Internet services and require service providers to police content uploaded by users or prevent users from uploading copyrighted content
- require Internet Service Providers to change their DNS servers and block resolution of the domain names of websites in other countries that host illegal copies of content
- require search engines to modify their search results to exclude foreign websites that illegally host copyrighted material
- order payment processors like PayPal and ad services like Google AdSense to cease doing business with foreign websites that illegally host copyrighted content
Our concern is that the powers enabled by these bills will be deployed by governments and commercial interests selfishly and without appropriate checks and balances.
Do you trust the interests behind these requirements to use them fairly? Are you comfortable with the idea that an online service that you use could be removed from the Internet based on a copyright claim that may or may not be legitimate?
Who is policing the police?
We also believe that the arguments used to conceive this solution are poorly formed.
First, we don’t believe that media piracy costs the U.S. economy $200–250 billion per year, which is commonly quoted, or that it has eliminated 750,000 American jobs. These are misleading figures, as Julian Sanchez explains. These numbers were publicized 20 and 30 years ago and have been positioned inappropriately.
Second, nobody is entitled to their place in the global economy.
As Bill Gurley notes, the big media businesses will fight hard to protect the stability of their value chains. For example, affiliate fee revenue at companies like Viacom and Disney is $1.5B and $2.0B respectively. Reductions in affiliate revenue at the corporate level will mean reductions in fees paid out to creative people. That’s not good.
But government should not be used to protect and enforce those business models at the expense of others. Nobody is entitled to a market size or position.
Capitalism is an adaptive system, and the TV and music industries will find other ways, perhaps better ways to make money and fund creative works. There are many models and success stories appearing everywhere including within their own businesses that will help them transition to more network-friendly, digitally sophisticated business models.
They don’t need and shouldn’t have the power to take down an entire web site because of a copyright claim.
The premise of protecting creative people is one we support wholeheartedly at n0tice. We’ve devised a commercial model that we think aims to do precisely that. People create spaces on n0tice where they can share writing, photos and videos with others, and they can support their efforts through the ad revenue sharing model built into those spaces.
As Rachel Botsman explains in her book Collaborative Consumption, there are many models for creative people to get value back for their work. We may in fact be in the midst of a worldwide revolution of creativity where more people can participate in creative activities because there are known and practiced economic models for doing so.
This is a good thing for people. It’s a good thing for business. And it’s a direct result of an open Internet.
And inasmuch as the initial concept for these bills questioned the state of protections for people and businesses on open networks, we are in agreement. We want laws that protect people from harm. We want politicians to raise awareness of threats to civility.
The solution to those problems, as we see it, is about supporting open spaces, protecting open spaces and collectively reinforcing positive behaviors.
- the n0tice team
More resources courtesy of Craigslist:
Tell Congress you OPPOSE H.R. 3261 “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) and S. 968 “Protect IP Act” (PIPA):
- Reverse Robocall ALL pro-SOPA MOC + Key Lobbyists (Genius! More info on Ars Technica)
- Phone your Member of Congress the old fashioned way (House) (Senate)
- Contact Senators who are refusing to meet with constituents about SOPA/PIPA.
- EFF Congressional Emailer – Oppose Internet Blacklisting (SOPA & PIPA)
- ECA Congressional Emailer - Don’t Censor Our Internet!
- OpenCongress Congressional Emailer – Oppose SOPA
- Generic Congressional Emailer (You’ll need your Zip+4)
- Outside the US? Sign Petition Opposing US Censorship of Global Sites (EFF)
Learn more about SOPA, Protect IP (PIPA), and Internet Blacklisting:
- Growing Chorus of Opposition to SOPA
- Open Letter against SOPA from 83 Prominent Internet Engineers
- Why SOPA and Protect IP (PIPA) are Bad, Bad Ideas (Techdirt)
- Piracy not a problem, SOPA/PIPA unnecessary (Tim O’Reilly on GigaOM)
- SOPA News (Google News)
- SOPA Wikipedia entry
- SOPA FAQ (CNET)