Wrong On SOPA/PIPA

Bob Lefsetz’ Anti-SOPA Blog 

Clay Shirkey’s SOPA TED Talk

It doesn’t take an egghead with multiple degrees to see that Clay Shirkey is a prevaricator who’s talking down to his audience. He simply can’t have it both ways; SOPA will be completely ineffective/SOPA will break the internet. Well, which one is it, Clay? It’s inconvenient to police content, but who is it inconvenient for? Google/Youtube, Facebook, Yahoo, that’s who. (but not because they’d be required to “police” a single thing; simply because they’d lose the money they make by selling ads on pirate sites) Small wonder that the same names are behind the massive smear campaign against SOPA/PIPA.

Conveniently, Shirkey mischaracterizes both the intent and the function of the DMCA and makes no mention of its ‘safe harbor’ provisions protecting sites that feature user-generated content. Conveniently, he also leaves out any mention of the substantial requirements of proof of ownership and standing before the court (in other words, due process) that must be established before any takedown may be issued under SOPA, a higher standard than under the current DMCA bill. Conveniently, he makes no mention of the fact that ISPs are not required to inspect data packets for infringing content, and that the burden of identification of infringing content is still on the copyright holder, who can be countersued for a false or malicious takedown, which current legislation does not provide for. Conveniently, Shirkey makes no mention that sharing is not the same as for-profit infringement, which is the clearly defined and explicitly stated intended target of the proposed legislation. There are so many misleading statements in this video, I thought I was listening to a spokesman for the Bush administration.

My wife works in a bakery, where as you’d expect, they have a scanner that produces edible images for cakes. They’ll put any image you like on a cake, as long as you bring it in. For a while, they put a stop to this practice because the parent company’s lawyers were concerned about copyright infringement and their potential liability, but customer demand was too strong, so they reversed their stance, and stopped putting the custom cakes in boxes with a window in the top, to prevent snooping busybodies from seeing the cakes. Incidentally, when they returned to their former cake image policy, sales of Deco packs, little plastic figurines, cake toppers with the copyrighted Disney and Hanna Barbera characters, shot through the roof. The bakery’s parent company is Procter & Gamble, a company with deep pockets, who clearly can afford to make a few lawsuits go away; contrast this with the poor little bakery in the Bronx, and you’ll have a much clearer notion of who gets hurt by this kind of fear-mongering. Yep, it’s the independents taking it in the chute, yet again.

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