Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Open Letter to SOPA Supporters

I've been thinking a lot about SOPA this week. I even watched some of the hearings which was really discouraging. If you're not up-to-speed, watch this 4 minute video:

Or, if you want a funnier version, watch this video by The Colbert Report.

I read a post by Dave Delaney this morning which links to Seth Godin's list of corporations, lawyers and boards who want to break the Internet. As I read through that list, I started to get really fired up. You should contact your representatives about this. But how about taking it a step further? How about contacting the companies directly responsible? Here's my open letter to them. If you agree, please send it along to them or create your own. As always, please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Dear Media Conglomerate:

What is your legacy worth to you? What do you believe about freedom? Please don't let short-sighted greed destroy both.

Your lobbying and support of Protect IP and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a sad and desperate move. I used to think this legislation was about piracy. Now I think it's about control. Old media is passing away. New media will not be centrally managed. You were born in an era where creators of art needed publishers to survive. Today, those creators are the publishers. Just this week a comedian made over $500,000 in 4 days on his own. You weren't needed. Your control over media selection and distribution is a thing of the past.

The free-market economy (which you have benefited so greatly from) only works when entities are allowed to be born while others adapt, pivot or die. Just like Blockbuster and Barnes and Noble, you're at a crossroads. You have to adjust in order to survive. By that's not the direction you're going, is it? Instead of playing fair and adjusting your business to serve the changing needs of your customers, you're trying to change the rules. You incentivize government staff members with cushy jobs to draft legislation in your favor. You are spending money to create a system which gives a scary amount of control to the government (and those with a strong team of lawyers). Doesn't that go against the ideals of our founding fathers? How is that not corruption? Do you think small businesses like mine can afford to police our servers or risk being shut down because of one criminal? Do you really expect us to put our trust and the welfare of our families and customers in the proper interpretation of this vaguely worded bill?

I watched some of the hearings this week and it was almost embarrassing. Some of the biggest supporters said things like "I'm not a nerd" and "I don't understand all the technical details." When faced with clear concerns from expert nerds who do understand the details, they could not give a concise response. It's almost like they are pushing this bill forward as quickly as possible because of some other agenda or force behind the scenes.

Could that be you?

Is piracy a problem? Yes. Are there ways to solve it using the free-market economy and not arm-twisting our government officials to pass legislation they don't understand? Yes. Look at how much the music industry has changed in the last 5 years. Delivering products in the way customers want will help the piracy issue. Prosecuting criminals will also help. It's naive and irresponsible of you or the government to think this legislation will fix the problem. Hackers and geeks understand this stuff way better than you ever will, and they will always find a work around to do the evil things they've pre-determined to do. What we can do is arrest them for breaking existing laws and use them as public examples of thieves stealing from artists.

Please, understand the long-term affects of what you're doing here. It's a scary place to see your control over something slip away. Show us your integrity by rising above that fear and adapting to the new realities of media distribution. Don't erode our freedom. Don't destroy your legacy in our minds. How can we do business with you if it costs us our freedom?


Luke Stokes said...

Just heard that they may be postponing the vote on this until next year. :)

Luke Stokes said...

Never mind. Now they are saying the vote might be tomorrow. Bah.

Luke Stokes said...

Now it's on pause again until next year from what I hear. Hopefully it will die in the election year.