January 18, 2012



You don’t need a link to find out what’s going with the SOPA “Blackout,” or all that other stuff. It’s all over the place, beyond those with a special interest in intellectual property.

Real news over an IP issue? Not quite.

Rather, the news and the attention arise from the fact that the threatened power-grab that SOPA represents goes far beyond IP, or “enforcement,” or “brands,” or even “piracy.”

Oh, those are all real things, real concepts. But their meaning has become so distorted in the public and political debate and spin that they get scare-quotes here today. It is precisely by turning piracy into a mission-critical bogey-man that the strong-IP advocates have perhaps, for once, overplayed their hands.


Yes, it’s about protecting existing companies from new business models, not piracy. But here’s an easy fix for SOPA: Allow anyone whose site is taken down to recover the greater of either $50,000 or five times actual damages imposed if their site is taken down without good reason, or if they can show bad faith. Given that Big Entertainment was robo-signing complaints a decade ago, that seems a reasonable thing to ask. Also make it a felony to sign a false affidavit in these cases, and allow private prosecution. . . .

Meanwhile, here’s Julian Sanchez on Internet regulation and the economics of piracy.

UPDATE: From reader Max Mulholland, a prediction. Is Obama playing a deep game here?

I am a undergraduate student in mechanical engineering at Missouri S&T and from what I have observed over the last few days is, If SOPA or PIPA are passed by congress and obama vetos them he will most likely get reelected in 2012 by energizing the youth by becoming “the savior of the internet” or something along those lines. It would be reasonable to assume that if he vetoed SOPA or PIPA now to get reelected he would just ram them through in the beginning of his second term.

Interesting. Is he that smart? Regardless, it’s looking as if he’s not going to get the chance. Missouri S&T is a great school, by the way.

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