Victors’ Remorse over SOPA Defeat?

Stampeded?

Did opponents of SOPA throw the baby out with the bathwater? Cary H. Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, says yes in a recent New York Times op-ed piece.

Sherman asserts that Google, Wikipedia and other Web heavy-hitters cried “Censorship!” like shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and stampeded a gullible public and its government servants into reversing legislation that would have afforded some measure of protection to the victims of copyright piracy.

“Policy makers had recognized a constitutional (and economic) imperative to protect American property from theft, to shield consumers from counterfeit products and fraud, and to combat foreign criminals who exploit technology to steal American ingenuity and jobs,” writes Sherman. “But at the 11th hour, a flood of e-mails and phone calls to Congress stopped the legislation in its tracks. Was this the result of democracy, or demagoguery?”

“Since when is it censorship to shut down an operation that an American court, upon a thorough review of evidence, has determined to be illegal?” the editorialist asks. “When the police close down a store fencing stolen goods, it isn’t censorship, but when those stolen goods are fenced online, it is?”

Now there is no legislation in place except the joke known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, piracy is out of control, and legitimate copyright owners are being stripped of their hard-earned livings by brazen thieves operating in broad daylight (See A Bootleg E-Book Bazaar Operates in Plain Sight)

Sherman urges the Web minions who lead the charge against SOPA to do the right thing and listen to the voices of the victims. “Perhaps this is naïve, but I’d like to believe that the companies that opposed SOPA and PIPA will now feel some responsibility to help come up with constructive alternatives. Virtually every opponent acknowledged that the problem of counterfeiting and piracy is real and damaging. It is no longer acceptable just to say no.”

That’s a motion we’re ready to second.

Details in What Wikipedia Won’t Tell You by Cary H. Sherman.  And a complete archive of E-Reads postings about piracy, visit Pirate Central.

Richard Curtis

Note to readers: Digital Book World has invited me to post my blogs initially on its website before releasing them on E-Reads, and this content is re-published with DBW’s permission. Click here to view the original posting.

Share

2 Responses to Victors’ Remorse over SOPA Defeat?

  1. “Since when is it censorship to shut down an operation that an American court, upon a thorough review of evidence, has determined to be illegal?” the editorialist asks. “When the police close down a store fencing stolen goods, it isn’t censorship, but when those stolen goods are fenced online, it is?”
    But the problem with SOPA was that there was no court involved at all. Not just offending pages or sites but entire domains would be shut down unilaterally, with the burden of proof on the accused, a very short window of time to respond, and no penalty whatsoever for malicious accusations.

    If a reader response to a post on a popular blog contained copyrighted material, the entire blog site could be shut down under SOPA. The site owner would have to probe he didn’t commit a violaton, could end up in court fighting to get his site restored, and would have no restitution or recourse after being dark for however long it lasted. And there’s no reason at all under SOPA for major content providers not to fire endless wide shotgun blasts of takedown notices. As far as they’re concerned it errs on the side of caution and they have no fear of penalty for the collateral damage their stray shots incur.

    The entire sub-industry of litigating copyright trolls such as Righthaven would likely burgeon under such opportunity.

    Record labels have already been caught red-handed demanding YouTube takedowns to not only eliminate competition for their artists, but to grant themselves an exclusive on unsigned artists by removing their works from availability to potential competitors. The MPAA and RIAA repeatedly issue broad takedown notices to ISPs that incur enormous amounts of collateral damage without any worry about recrimination. Legitimate sites have been dark as long as a year, with no recourse or restitution. SOPA would give the major content providers carte blanche to expand this practice.

    Furthermore, SOPA grants an unreasonable (and probably illegal) amount of power and latitude for action against non-U.S.-based sites, and sets the stage to the bottlenecking of domain registration and control through U.S. control, which goes against the letter of ICAAN and the spirit of the internet itself.

    The issue with SOPA isn’t whether piracy is wrong, but that SOPA is simply too broad, too easily gamed, and too rife with the likelihood of collateral damage.

  2. Rowena Cherry says:

    It appears that the solution is to censor the types of e-books that are most pirated: erotica, shapeshifter romance, bodice rippers, BDSM.

    Apparently, PayPal is threatening to put publishers out of business, to disable all books, and to confiscate all funds if publishers fail to voluntarily remove questionable works of fiction.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

− 3 = 3