Today is an online protest against the proposed legislation Stop Online Privacy Act, or SOPA. Why are so many opposed to SOPA? Because it would break the Internet, it would censor free speech, and it is the wrong solution to the problem. The problem is pirated copyrighted material - but the real solution is better business models. Time and again, data has shown that piracy goes down when the content is legitimately available. In countries where services like iTunes, Spotify, and Pandora are available, piracy has gone done. People will buy their favorite tunes when given a chance. The problem is that content owners still believe they have monopoly super powers, controlling the distribution of their content - wanting to charge silly ticket prices at movie theaters or exorbitant prices for movie rentals - frequently creating absurd situations where popular content is not available through any legitimate channel.
Copyright owners have long opposed new technology and new business models. Jack Valenti, then president of the MPAA, testified before congress against the VCR:
'I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.'
And what happened? The VCR and movie rentals made the movie industry piles of money. Unfortunately not much has changed. Content owners continue to oppose innovation and new business models, and instead would just takedown sites like YouTube or Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else they think that might have pirated content.
So where do the Congressional representatives from Arlington stand on this issue?
- Jim Moran has apparently made no statement.
- UPDATE: Jim Moran has tweeted: "I oppose
#SOPA. Keep the internet open."
- Mark Warner, according to the website SOPA OPERA, opposes SOPA. He reportedly joined in Sen. Wyden's effort to draft a legislative alternative to SOPA.
- Jim Webb has apparently made no statement, although his webpage dedicated to the issue of technology does provide a valuable link to DTV Transition information #outofdate
The Electronic Frontier Foundation offers an action page to help you lobby your member of congress on this important piece of legislation.