SOPA and PROTECTIP Grumble in the Grave: Let’s Salt and Burn the Bones

It looks like in an almost zombie film action, SOPA and PROTECTIP may be lurching back from the dead—and like all good zombies, it’s out for brains: storage and cloud will be the first on the plate. We’ve seen a long and winding path for legislation such as this and as the MPAA and RIAA push it, they will bring with them a minefield for future innovation in cloud-streaming and -storage, and they have little more than rhetoric to back them up.

Chris Dodd, well-known ex-politician turned lobbyist for the MPAA, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about where he expects to go with future anti-piracy legislation like SOPA.

When asked how he felt about what happened with the downfall of SOPA and if President Obama blindsided him, he said, “I’m not going to revisit the events of last winter. I’ll only say to you that I’m confident he’s using his good relationships in both communities to do exactly what you and I have been talking about.”

Just previously he suggested that negotiations were still going on, at least behind the scenes, and that he had no intent about talking about them lest his discussion become “counterproductive.”

Copyright Legislation a Thorn in the Side of the Technology Industry

The interaction of the MPAA and RIAA and copyright legislation has been a dark-clouded and grim history that negatively affects the industry as well as the customers.

The copyright cabals have a giant shotgun with the current laws already; we’ve seen them swinging it around with grave abandon to threaten everyone from large companies to private individuals. In fact, the MPAA and RIAA have taken a tremendous PR black-eye due to numerous lawsuits chasing after torrents and peer-to-peer downloaders who shared or downloaded mere one to ten songs or movies. Although most citizens may not know who these organizations are or what they do, they appear regularly in blogs being lambasted for the bad behavior of lashing out at people who post videos of dancing infants with copyrighted songs playing in the background.

PROTECTIP and SOPA were forwarded with the expectation that they would help stop piracy—labeled primarily as counterfeiters, people who take copyrighted music albums, press their own CDs, and sell them as the real thing—however, with the track record that the MPAA and RIAA have on this matter there’s no doubt they would intend to stop there.

The Megaupload debacle is the best example of where this sort of legislation wishes it could go: control not only over content but tight reigns on the entire storage industry. The still-ongoing legacy of what the copyright-centric industry will do to future innovation with legislation like this is certainly damning. After all, in Canada this same copyright industry argued that they deserved a royalty on all blank media (happened with DVDs), a tax on citizens and the industry because people could use blank media to copy digital movies and music.

Megaupload was just a target-of-convenience that people saw as a sloppy outfit that could get labeled as “rogue.” Even though none of the accusations that the Hong Kong-based outfit did anything but follow the law with regards to taking down copyrighted content, that didn’t save them from that shotgun.

SOPA and PROTECTIP Failed and They Should Stay Dead

When these proposals began to rise through congress, the information and technology industry didn’t pay much heed to them.

After all, Google, YouTube, Wikipedia, and others have their own problems when it comes to copyright legislation and they seem to be holding their own; but the cloud-based industry is a new innovation. Side-storing large files is extremely necessary for people on-the-go and outfits like Megaupload have seen a great deal of use—even by the very US government and US military—and when they were targeted by the US government and the copyright industry it caused a giant shakeup.

Suddenly, it’s obvious that even technologies with largely legitimate uses are in the crosshairs of the MPAA and RIAA and the lack of lobbyists from the technology industry makes it hard to control the legislation flowing into congress. SOPA and PROTECTIP were destroyed in a manner rarely seen before: an up swell of tremendous public ire.

Not only does the cloud and content industry affect enterprise (looking at the impact of Megaupload) but it also has a huge effect on community and culture. While a multitude of people love and adore music and movies, their copyright industry wants to reach out and control all the avenues that it might flow through, and in those avenues there’s a lot of people producing their own content. The RIAA and MPAA may have a legitimate concern about counterfeiters, and already have appropriate laws to combat them, but they’re no longer the gatekeepers of all things creative.

The Internet is the great leveler and democratizer of creativity and content, add in crowdfunding like Kickstarter, people who have Internet popularity and fame, and the ability to distribute far and wide. We need to trust that legislation will protect us from the monarchy of control from these big content and copyright industries—otherwise any industry that relies on private individuals and democratizing storage will wither and die in their shadow.

About Kyt Dotson

Technology and civilization walk hand in hand and civilization is nothing without the skin of society, brushing up against itself, speaking strange nothings across dimly lit avenues and computer screens. If we're going to understand ourselves in this digital era, it will be through watching the adoption of technology by people to express themselves as people. I am an anthropologist and an author of science fiction and fantasy--and with my technology, I hope to open up new and exciting worlds that will not just enlighten the humanity of my friends and fans but also educate and enhance the expression of their own personhood. Find more of my work on Google+; send tips to @kytsune.