SOPA – Not Needed In the United States

Posted on Jan 16, 2012 in News

We’ve proven time and time again that no amount of legislation is going to stop online piracy.  It’s already Illegal and is spelled out very plainly (RIAA – The Law), but it happens ANYWAY.

Why? Because as the saying goes, “Where there is a will, there’s a way”.

Depending on whose stats you read, which vary WILDLY (yes, “Statistics lie and liars use statistics”) depending on what they want them to say, anywhere from 10% to 75% of all PC’s have something pirated on them (music, movies, software, etc). If you believe the high numbers (which the RIAA and other want you to believe), then most of the people in the country are criminals that deserve 5 years of jail time and $250,000 fines.  Ok, so not EVERYONE pirates, but it’s a very large percentage of the world – extremely difficult (if not impossible) to stop when pretty much everyone using a computer is pirating something.

So many of the world’s best and brightest have both the time and the know-how to circumvent encryptions/detection/etc. and are motivated by reasons ranging from “anti-establishment” sentiment to “just to see if I can”. Also, I should mention that the majority of the active “hackers” out there are NOT in the United States or any other country that’s going to care what law(s) we have.  So the people who make it possible won’t be stopped, and can continue to provide simple to operate software that makes pirating possible and more and more difficult to track.

My Question is do we really need any more laws on the books for digital piracy?  I would argue “No” for several reasons.  The United States has one of the lowest rates of piracy in the world at less than 15% for 2011 (music piracy rates had dropped to 9% by the 4th quarter of 2010).  Compared to many countries (including China & Russia) which pirate 80-97% of their digital goods and our Laws will have NO impact on them. Also, all of the statics out there say that we’re already on the right track with digital piracy being on the decline (both long and short term comparisons), thanks mostly to the rise of legitimate services that make buying our digital content easy and convenient.  (Thank you iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Google Music, Pandora, Spotify, Hulu,Rhapsody, etc).  I totally agree with the comments of Patrick Thornton here.  (original article)

With that in mind – “Big Hammer” legislation tends to hurt legitimate businesses a LOT more than those pirates it was trying to target.  I’ve not read enough into the legalese, but I’m sure it’s going to be a whole new set of nonsense rules and hoops that the “good guys” have to try to live by and jump through which will make innovation in the area more difficult and the entire industry more expensive in the long run.

The Internet is a global network. Making super restrictive laws in this country will just cause businesses to move to other countries to avoid the cost and headaches involved with staying here.

The technical ramifications of the bill as it stands are mind blowing. The amount of work and processing power required to filter this way would likely sink most companies if they tried to truly follow it. The open-ended legal responsibilities are crazy… The reading through SOPA makes the paranoid side of me wonder if its not a terrorist sponsored bill aimed at further crippling our economy.  I actually agree with most of the “Arguments against” section of the SOPA Wikipedia Article and find the “Arguments for” section amazingly short on content comparatively.  So few good reasons for it, so many bad things that could be fallout from it, and it gives government a lot of scary power in an area they don’t understand – conspiracy theorists unite!

It appears that some people that know what they are talking about are going to get to address congress on this.  Let’s hope that sanity prevails.   “Bring in the Nerds!”

Here’s some reading to get your noodle going: 

I’ve long thought that the RIAA overstates its case on piracy, and in my recent research I found this article by someone who ran their “numbers”:   RIAA’s Statistics Don’t Add Up to Piracy

Pay up or else… What happens when government’s laws are tipped so heavily in the favor of “rightsholders”.  Take Notes because “special privildges” provided in bills like SOPA can lead to this.

Daniel Booth
Senior Software Engineer, Kindred Healthcare

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Dennis Edmondson Jr
Dennis Edmondson Jr

Thanks to Daniel Booth for sharing his opinion. I would love to get some feedback on this and if anyone would like to write for the opposite side, just let me know!