I LOVE the internet. If you’re a regular www.davidhallsocialmedia.com reader, chances are you love it too. I’ve loved it since I first logged on in the mid-1990s on a borrowed machine (with a 14.4 kbps modem) set up in the dining room of my childhood home. It gave us access to new things like emails, discussion boards, and ICQ. But it also gave us free and easy access to copyrighted material like never before. We could now download warez, appz, images, wavs, mp3s, video clips, etc., for FREE! This availability of content has allowed us to explore different genres of music, artists, types of film, new ideas, make new connections, and meet new people that would have been out of our reach before the internet.
Much of this discovery was done with a disregard for copyright, but not because we wanted to break the law. It was done in the interest of sharing. Sharing things we loved, sharing things we found pleasure in, sharing with strangers. Sharing is critical to the very DNA of the internet .
But the entertainment industry in the US doesn’t like this perceived “sharing” threat. Enter the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) – A Bill that will allow the United States Government to block citizens from viewing websites – The infographic below provides a good summary of the background and arguments for and against the Bill. Big thanks to Muhammad Saleem, social media blogger extraordinaire, for sharing this infographic with me courtesy of Business Insurance Quotes. .
To me, SOPA has got it all wrong. In the past, if we purchased a record, tape, or CD, we were free to lend it to a friend. If we shared similar tastes in movies, we could arrange a DVD swap, right? But if I buy a song on iTunes, I can’t share a copy with my friends. Huh? The flow of information on the internet doesn’t mesh with the archaic revenue model for the large entertainment industry, but instead of updating the model, a government-run censorship of the internet is what we may be faced with.
Perhaps comedian Louis C.K. has the right idea. He recently hired his own TV crew to capture his latest stand-up routine. He then sold it on the internet, himself, for $5 a piece. Users who downloaded were free to use the video how they liked. They could share it with friends, post on their website, make DVDs, etc. Louis went broke right? Nope, he claims that he made $200,000 in just 4 days. More on this story at Mashable.
Should we protect IP at all costs or empower open collaboration? What do you think about SOPA?