If you have not yet caught up with SOPA, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” working its way through the US legislative system, you probably soon will, because if it gets up, the troglodytes in Canberra will pile onto the bandwagon pretty quickly.
The act is a response to the digital piracy enabled by the net, but the probability of unintended consequences is absolute.
It is clear that there are problems, why buy music when you can download it for free? The legacy industries of the C20 whose business is creating content would rather you do not have the right to create and share it yourself, they want to produce second rate crap and charge you for it. You being able to do it threatens their profits.
Better ask iTunes, a C21 business by the way, they seem to have done OK, their 10 billionth song was downloaded in February last year, or the boatloads of new bands who have a profile and market for their music via the net, but not a music company in sight, and the bloggers, who have a means to express themselves without a newspaper, the list goes on.
The push against piracy is understandable, businesses are having their business models trashed, and they want it to all go away, but it won’t, simply because the world has changed and they have not, so they need to move over, or as it is happening, be moved over. Painful to the few, but inevitable.
King Canute found the tide did not stop just because he wanted it to, and had pinned his future on being able to stop it, and I suspect the proponents of SOPA will discover the same thing. Being cynical, I suspect they already know it, but are just trying to buy time at our expense. This TED presentation by Clay Shirky, one of the real thinkers in this space says it better than I can ever hope to do.