RCimT: The SOPA / PIPA protest has had direct results

Harry Reid has postponed PIPA indefinitely after information about who’s doing the lobbying for it came out, and after the protests peeled off 25-odd House reps and galvanized another 50 against the proposed laws. These laws may be well and truly dead this time.

But there’s still some ripple effects to be had.

The RIAA decided to be obnoxious on Twitter, showing everyone exactly why we should disdain their opinion in this matter — because they operate completely in absence of any sort of empathy or nuance.

Rupert Murdoch also took to Twitter, multiple times, to prove that he supports SOPA / PIPA and that he doesn’t understand how the internet works. He also accused Google of piracy, proving how delusional the media magnate is. These three facts together show just what kind of douchebag he is, as though ordering his company to hack a dead girl’s cell phone to get a story isn’t douchebaggy enough. He just had to double down by trying to break the internet out of some ridiculous idea that copyright supercedes free speech and a useable network.

And yet, astonishingly, even without SOPA / PIPA, the government has shut down a very large and popular website for copyright violations. (“Shock, horror”, the blogger said, reading his stage directions.) In one shot, the Feds have proven that they already have all the tools they need to go after copyright infringers.

Coming just the day after the SOPA / PIPA protests, MegaUpload, a very large file distribution website often used by commercial entities to transfer large files amongst themselves, and apparently also often used to violate copyright by its users, was taken down and many of its employees arrested for copyright infringement and several counts of conspiracy including money laundering. I don’t know how many of the charges will stick, but it looks like a good lot of them. I do know that many of their bits of content at MegaUpload and sister site MegaVideo had been taken down for copyright violation, suggesting that there’s actually a procedure for copyright takedown that evidently worked. Maybe not to the government’s specifications for legality, though — if it was a haven for copyrighted material and the copyright owners weren’t actually doing their due diligence and cracking down on the infringing content as it sprang up, it might be the copyright owners’ fault for the infringement counts. Putting premiums on uploading illegal content, giving users perks for generating ad revenue around that illegal content, is damned shifty, and I’m certain that if the evidence is as good as they say, due process will prove the infringement and the conspiracy and the fraud and these people will be found guilty. It’s a small shame that the site is down in advance of that due process, for suspicion of copyright infringement, because now I have no way of actually visiting the site and forming an informed opinion. I have to go by third-party hearsay because I’ve, honestly, never used the service.

In response to the takedown, Anonymous launched another protest. Of course, Anonymous’ form of protest involves getting a large number of sympathizers to launch distributed denial of service attacks on these folks’ websites, taking them down by sheer volume of requests coming from their participants. This attack was apparently the largest ever, with 5635 participants. The targets: the RIAA, the MPAA, the US Department of Justice, and Universal Music. All of them down yesterday.

Maddox has an interesting take on the figures pushed about “2 million jobs” in the entertainment industry being at risk. Interesting in that he actually checked the numbers and they’re exaggerated, including tons and tons of people not remotely connected to media production. When you include only those people involved in the music, movie, TV or other media content industry, it’s more like 361,900 — and 25% of that are service jobs, e.g. food vendors and ushers. So the industry lied about these figures, like every other figure ever developed about piracy. Why can’t they just tell the truth, and let people judge based on that information? Is the media industry’s case just that bad?

A better question is this, though: are the old ways of profiting on scarcity of a production, where media can only be sold if it’s a physical object, completely destroyed with the advent of the internet? I posit yes. The cost of distribution of digital goods is as close to zero as you can get. If you can’t make prices reflect that fact, and if you’re competing AGAINST that distribution method instead of USING it, then you’re going to die as an industry. Evolve or die. Period.

RCimT: The SOPA / PIPA protest has had direct results

3 thoughts on “RCimT: The SOPA / PIPA protest has had direct results

  1. 1

    The intertubes have changed the way information and entertainment is disseminated. Unfortunately us old farts* are clueless about how the internet works. As a result, SOPA and PIPA and even OPEN are being pushed because some people think they’ll lose money if the internet isn’t radically changed to accommodate them.

    *I’m 63, obviously I’m too old to understand my own comment.

  2. 2

    Vinyl records have made something of a comeback recently. They’re a niche market, to be sure, but it is there. I, personally, like having the physical CD of the music I buy. From there I can convert it into whatever audio format I need to be able to play it on my devices, or just pop it into my car’s 6-disc CD player.

    With physical CD’s if my computer dies, or the online service goes out of business, or my account gets hacked/banned/deleted/misplaced, I still have my physical disc.

    And yes, I know I could just burn them to disc, but a lot of applications seem to tamper with the sound levels and discs in consumer burners just don’t seem to hold up as well as the stamped discs (in my experience).

    I think a market will always be there for physical media, but it will undoubtedly become small one.

  3. 3

    I would also point out that the fallout from the Megaupload shutdown and arrests has begun. Two popular file sharing services, Fileserve and Filesonic have pulled out of the file sharing business and it is rumored that other may follow.

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