The heart of the SOPA war

Written by Paper. Posted in Life, Main Street Polity

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Published on November 12, 2014 with No Comments

Wikipedia went black. Google sympathized. Government blinked. And it was all about SOPA, the abbreviation for the Stop Online Piracy Act. Much has been said, written and debated about this, but at the heart of it is the fundamental question of enforcing the copyright rules. Some call it a war between creative people and those who want to make money from the creations of the creative people. Some people make content and some people share content. This could be movies, music, videos, photographs and – well you get the idea. Making things costs money and the makers of things want to recover the costs and then some from their creativity – through sales and advertising. Meanwhile, we live in the digital age where people are no longer consumers of media, they are sharers. The sharing happens via copying and sometimes rearranging the music, movies and other content. Along the way people other than the creators can make money with links and advertisements. Content creators define this copying, rearranging and moneymaking as “online piracy.” They want to stop it.

English: Rally in Stockholm, Sweden, in suppor...

Image via Wikipedia

But it’s not that simple. Sites that share content such as Wikipedia and Google worry that the “real effect” of SOPA will be expensive and detrimental to their methods of operation. Applying the law has the potential to get out of hand, extending way beyond true online piracy to the point where anyone, sharing anything could be a pirate. Plus there could be guilt by association. Clay Shirkey, notable for being a fan of sharing says this is a case of large, old-fashioned media moguls shirking their responsibility. Instead of tracking and proving copyright violations they’re getting the Government to do it by apply a broad brush approach. He further reasons that these companies once made a fortune from captive audiences on couches who were just consuming their sometimes mediocre products. Now digital technology has freed the audience from the proverbial couch and SOPA is really an attempt to get them back. That’s how the digital became political.

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