SOPA Is Evil

PiracySo the record companies, the movie studios, the obsolete media, and some large software companies want the ability to nuke a website from orbit if they find any of their intellectual property there.

Or a hint of their intellectual property.

Or, “Oops, I guess that wasn’t ours.  How much business did you lose during the 6 month appeal of a non-judicial takedown?”

Pure crap.

I’m not saying that from the perspective of some junior high pirate watching free porn in his parents’ basement.  Intellectual property is the basis of my livelihood.  I am a Microsoft Certified Professional; a software engineer.  I am a blogger; a writer.  I am a web developer; again, pure IP.

Giving private companies the right to arbitrarily take down sites for what may or may not be an actual violation is absurd.

Over the last few years, a law firm called Righthaven(spit!) has been teaming up with news agencies around the country to extort fees out of websites–generally small sites–for violating their copyright.   Most of those cases involved individual users–not owners–posting fair-use snippets of articles.   Since the cases were filed in Nevada, it would have cost more to fight the suits than to simply pay the blackmail, typically $5,000-$10,000.

Now, add the ability to threaten to administratively shut down the site if settlement isn’t made in 24 hours.  That eliminates the ability to consult with an attorney, undermining the legal system completely.

All because once-successful companies can’t cope with the current world.

I’m not a fan of piracy.  I enjoy buying movies because that encourages the people who made them to continue to make movies.  The delivery system sucks.

Netflix has developed a successful business model out of making it easier to watch movies legally than to pirate them.   For $8/month, you can watch as many movies as you’d like.  If you have a $50 Roku, or any number of other devices, you can watch right on your TV.  Add another $8/month to that, and you can get new DVDs delivered right to your door.   For less than $20/month, they are delivering licensed, legitimate content and making a profit doing so.

How did the movie companies respond?

Did they increase the availability of their libraries, to get more wanting-to-be-honest customers paying a small fee to watch their content?

Of course not.  They reduced the instant library and extended the amount of time before they would license new movies for rental.  They made it harder to get their content legitimately, which increased the amount of piracy.

Now, since Plan A is biting them in the ass, they are pushing for yet more legislation to salvage their failed business models.

Here are three options for watching movies I don’t own:

Option 1:   Instant

Through the magic of Amazon Instant, Netflix Instant, or any of the magical Roku channels, I can…

  1. Open an account.  Once.
  2. Find a movie I want to watch.
  3. Watch it immediately.   This could be included in a membership fee, or as an individual rental.

Option 2: Piracy

I am not recommending illegal activity.  This is for the sake of example, only.

  1. Download torrent software, like uTorrent.  Once.
  2. Go to a site like and find a movie I want to watch.
  3. Click the torrent link, let the torrent software open it and download the movie.
  4. Watch the movie in a couple of hours.  For free.

Option 3: Buy it.

  1. Drive to the store each time I want to watch a movie.
  2. Spend $15-$20 on the movie.
  3. Drive home.
  4. Fight the bank vault of plastic and tape they wrap the movies in.
  5. Put the DVD in the player.
  6. Watch 5 minutes of “Don’t Be a Pirate” garbage.  Hey jerkface, if I’m watching the DVD, I didn’t pirate it.  Bad market-targeting here.
  7. Watch 15 minutes of commercials that I can’t skip through.
  8. Watch 15 minutes of commercials previews that I can’t skip through.
  9. Watch the movie.  This process takes longer than the piracy and costs more than option 1.

On top of that, I’m told I’m a pirate if I back up my movies for archival purposes.  Or if I rip my movies to my network to allow me to watch them conveniently.   I’m told that I’m merely licensing the content of the disc, but if the disc fails, I have to buy a new one.  I can’t just download the content again.

This is a failure, and it isn’t a legislative failure.

The companies that are embracing modern options are succeeding, and will continue to do so.   The companies that refuse, at the expense of their potential customers, will sink.

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    1. I could sweat I remember there being a legal case that ruled it ok to have one copy of media for “archival” purposes. Either way, I agree that it’s important to prevent piracy, but just like what happened with the RIAA (or whoever it was that deals with entertainment copyrights) suing a teenager for $10,000 that they obviously don’t have is crazy. Not only that, the damages come nowhere near any kind of “profits” that are being lost.

    2. hilton.madona says:

      SOPA/PIPA law is going to jeopardize our digital freedom and some concrete and harsh steps should be taken by US citizens to get this law turned down. I think it has a long term impact on our freedom of speech and before things get worsen we should and must take some concrete steps.

    3. Nicely put! Jason, just so you know – the article up on 1/23 throws up the red screen of death (reported as unsafe to Microsoft) when you click on the title.

    4. I don’t know what’s causing that. I just did a couple of scans and couldn’t find anything.

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