This post is about SOPA/PIPA. It’s not too late, because the fight isn’t over yet.
It’s pretty simple. We have a freedom of speech – at least, we have it here in the U.S., where I’m writing this.
Speech, in everyday situations is carried by air. When I speak – literally – I make vocalizations, which create sound waves, which are carried by the air to another person’s ears. Or, often, just my own ears, as I talk to myself altogether too much.
This literal, physical speech knows no boundaries save the physical limitations of the space you are in. If my friend is standing in Canada, and I’m in earshot in the US, he’ll hear me.
Speech, in the internet sense, is carried by technologies like TCP/IP. It’s directed by DNS and NAT.
But because it’s carried by technology, which we’ve invented and thus can theoretically control, it’s somehow treated differently than speech carried by air. Many countries have made laws about what speech is allowed to travel on the internet.
Now, I’m all for preventing child pornography. I’m all for preventing piracy. But not at the risk of sucking the air out of the atmosphere. Let’s keep that kind of hijinks relegated to the movie Spaceballs, please.
We can use the DMCA to fight piracy. We can use existing laws to find and prosecute child pornographers.
What we don’t need to do is hobble the fundamental nature of the Internet simply to protect a business model. In fact, for the sake of capitalism, we should allow companies that cannot adapt to the realities of the Internet to whither and die. Anything less than that is government protectionism – and not the good kind that keeps people in jobs and mortgages. The bad kind that keeps unsustainable businesses taxing our economy.
The good news seems to be that The People are in agreement about what shouldn’t be done to Their Internet. The bad news is The People can’t afford their own Senators. We just elect them.
Hopefully that’s enough for the politicians. Hopefully, it’s enough to make them behave like Statesmen, which is what we expect them to be.
Banks are a valuable part of our society. We bailed them out. Car companies, maybe a little less valuable – but a big job center, and we bailed them out.
Hollywood doesn’t deserve a bailout; not when tickets are double-digit dollars in the theater. Not when they’ve plugged their ears to Internet distribution. Not when the movies suck.
We have no need to protect these guys. They aren’t a significant factor in our economy, and they could use a new and improved business model.
It goes like this: Put it in the theater. Then, put it on the internet. No Blu-rays, no DVD’s, no pay-per-view (save internet rental) and no HBO window. Scrap all the contracts, and get the best content to your customers the most convenient – and fastest – way possible.
We’ll be watching. And we’ll be breathing.