Lobbyists for Hollywood and the music industry—the famous Music and Film Industry Association of America™ (MAFIAA™) are putting pressure in Congress to pass two anti-piracy bills: SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act).
These bills would allow content providers to block access to their websites, to cancel all advertising, and to pull out search engines results.
Is this a lack of judgment towards the reality of the market? Aren’t these laws helping censorship? In the current context of cyberconflicts in Iran and China, is this a way to quarantine the contaminated part of the network? Or is it a weapon to wage an economic war?
The main concern is that these systems are easy to bypass and will not put an end to downloading information. The IP addresses of these sites or services will always work. SOPA and PIPA will easily paralyze new disturbing startups by claiming that they don’t filter content well enough. Many collaborative platforms that were built on the principles of cultural exchange and remix could be considered as pirate websites by some authorities (Soundcloud, Tumblr, YouTube). Finally, these filtering methods would weaken the Internet, which would become less stable and less secure.
The music and film industries are trying to end a distinction made in 1992 between legal and illegal copies. They are trying to establish a system in which the copy is itself outlawed. These laws claim to protect beneficiaries; they are actually tools for censorship and control, which has led some worried American agencies to position themselves clearly against the bills. This blackout, led by leaders such as Wikipedia, Wired, and Reddit could forecast something bigger: Internet freedom might begin to interest early adopters, and not only an elite—technicians and activists called “innovators.”
It is not the first time that show business tries to regain control of its works. From VHS tapes to Napster, technology has always shaken the game, and allowed newcomers to offer a better service than majors. The problem is not the pirate, who behaves like all consumers and caters to the one who has the best offer. Unfortunately, neither Hollywood nor the music industry is able to change their approach and to integrate new usages and contemporary behaviors. With SOPA and PIPA, they are trying to delay their own transformation.
American architect Richard Buckminster Fuller once said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
As early as in Gutenberg’s times, the Church tried to fight the dissemination of new ideas through the printed book.
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