- Larry Downes, has a great piece titled Who Really Stopped SOPA, and Why?
- Yochai Benkler on Seven Lessons from SOPA/PIPA/Megauplaod and Four Proposals on Where We Go From Here
- The Hollywood Reporter provides the industry perspective on how it lost the legislative fight.
- Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge illustrates why defeating SOPA is not cause to declare victory just yet.
The Yochai Benkler article, in particular, should be mandatory reading for anyone pushing back against the demands of the “content industries”.
SOPA/PIPA pushed back for now, Cyberlockers like MegaUpload ongoing, ACTA ongoing in European Parliament (interesting that today the Rapporteur quit his position, disgusted with how the democratic process in being bypassed), then there’s TPP (next meeting: Hollywood-West Jan 31st) and CETA.
What appears to be effective is physically taking to the streets in large droves. And, in Europe, telling the politicians where your next vote will go.
From Yochai Benkler’s article:
“Decriminalize copyright to per-1998 levels: put the Golem to sleep. Return the definition of criminal copyright to require large scale copying for commercial gain; reduce the funding to criminal enforcement and reduce the presence of federal functionaries whose role is to hype and then combating the piracy threat. In particular, as calls to shrink the federal government abound, it is critical to include in every legislation downsizing the federal budget provisions that would defund and eliminate most of the burgeoning apparatus of multi-agency criminal enforcement of copyright. The most direct pathway to this will be in appropriation bills, to defund implementation of PRO-IP until a more balanced substantive approach can be worked out.”
So how does this stop the “copyright lawyers” from blackmailing ahh… offering to settle with p2p-users (civil copyright infringement)? Not. And you can be sure that RIAA/MPAA will be opening up that can of worms again since the “government won’t do anything for them”.
Pandora’s box has been opened a long time ago. The only way this is going to end is by a drastic reduction in copyright and neighbouring rights terms [unless expanding Fair Use would make that obsolete] and legalizing file sharing as long as there is no financial gain. The question is how long this is going to take. Just ask the 25 and younger generation. It might take another decade or two, tops. But people have the technology; they have YouTube, they have p2p… they are going to use it.
Tough to stick it to the man
SOPA was stopped but the very next day Megaupload gets taken down. “The Man” already has the tools in place to do whatever it wants. SOPA just organized them into a neat little package. SOPA being stopped didn’t throw them off schedule.
It’s interesting to trace the roots of this phenomena. I have heard people claim it is the technology companies against the content industries. I have heard people claim it’s a one shot that will never be repeated, and it’s back to business as usual in lobbyist circles. I have arguments against each of these views, but these points are already well made in the above articles.
But one thing we can all be sure of, is that issues surrounding copyright are no longer a fringe issue in public awareness. That the copyright industry lobby/contributions has been very successful in tilting policy/law makers their direction over the last 30 years, isn’t lost either.
So what will happen? Who will be in control? Where will it end up?
I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone does. This isn’t an army that can be directed. It isn’t a mob on a rampage. It’s thoughtful people that have been made aware of an ongoing and long term erosion of the proper democratic processes, and realise they can change things. Perhaps big changes.
The closest analogy I can think of, is an open source software project, an ambitious one. The hardest part is to get people interested and involved. This requires a narrow focus to start with. The scope will inevitably expand beyond this focus as soon as you get enough interest and involvement. Lots of discussions, lots of give and take, and even lots of splintering and re-merging. Everybody is welcome, but nobody is “in control”.
Where this awakening of the public will eventually take us, I can’t predict. I can predict there will be those that will attempt to exploit and direct it. Just as I can also predict they won’t be successful in doing so. The only way you can influence this, is to become involved and contribute to the overall good of the “project”.
From the lobbyist’s point of view, this must seem like a nightmare. It’s relatively easy to research influential political figures and design a lobby campaign that will have the biggest effect on these individuals. But how do you design a campaign that will influence public opinions, when it is easily apparent to that very public that your agenda *isn’t* really in their best interests? Corporate political *agendas* will need to change, to accommodate the views of the public. All corporate entities.
As Clay Shirky once said, “Here comes Everybody”, although I doubt even he envisioned it quite this way.