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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Opinion

Internet Piracy: no one is guilty nor innocent


The Stop Online Piracy Act got nixed in bill form before it could become law,  but don’t be surprised if SOPA or one of its clones make a comeback before too long.
Of course The Daily Cougar would never advocate larceny or piracy, but committing copyright infringement is near unavoidable. If you’ve backed up a song or copied pages of a textbook for a classmate, you’re technically a file-sharing pirate. Even those who haven’t copied and pasted a single byte of copyrighted material are susceptible to purchasing counterfeited goods, aka bootleg sunglasses.

File sharing is still vague in law, and so was SOPA. This caused a lot of confusion and overreaction, and the last thing we need is more uncertain laws. Texas Rep. Lamar Smith — who introduced SOPA — denounced “misinformation” and the opposition in an editorial for Politico in December.

“SOPA helps American innovators by protecting US intellectual property from foreign criminals. The bill targets conduct that is already illegal,” he wrote. Why he doesn’t care about worldwide innovators is a mystery.

He also said SOPA makes it harder for online “thieves” to profit from selling copyrighted goods.
“We cannot let misinformation distract us from making the online marketplace safe for US consumers,” Smith said.

Smith has a point: Misinformation is bad. However, Smith is full of misinformation.

There are no money transactions in sharing — period. Pay-to-download sites exist, but the real money comes from ad revenue, not pirating.

Secondly, most downloaded content is decades out of circulation, or not sold in stores. If the content is commercially available, it is usually overpriced. Companies made their profit a long time ago, and that is that.

Admittedly, digitally stored information does have commodity value. Yet plenty of producers advocate open source of their wares. Why? Because contracted actors, artists, painters, musicians, writers and cartoonists easily get conned out of their fair share thanks to corporate legal nonsense. Even rich musicians say they are paid far too much for what they produce. Ask Bono from U2.

The law shouldn’t blame consumers, it won’t help producers and it can’t hurt the pirates.

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