Sunday, January 15, 2012

SOPA, PIPA, Benkler

SOPA and PIPA have made a lot of headlines lately, deservedly so, Luckily the White House stepped up and said Obama wouldn't sign either of these horribly misguided bills. (Edit: Or, apparently only SOPA is shelved?)

I'd like to quote Benkler, from his Wealth of Networks (2006), p. 2:

The rise of greater scope for individual and cooperative nonmarket pro- duction of information and culture, however, threatens the incumbents of the industrial information economy. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we find ourselves in the midst of a battle over the institutional ecology of the digital environment. A wide range of laws and institutions— from broad areas like telecommunications, copyright, or international trade regulation, to minutiae like the rules for registering domain names or whether digital television receivers will be required by law to recognize a particular code—are being tugged and warped in efforts to tilt the playing field toward one way of doing things or the other. How these battles turn out over the next decade or so will likely have a significant effect on how we come to know what is going on in the world we occupy, and to what extent and in what forms we will be able—as autonomous individuals, as citizens, and as participants in cultures and communities—to affect how we and others see the world as it is and as it might be.
Spot-on. There are two other angles to the story, one, companies following the old business models that have always worked in the past and doing so until the company is run into the ground, and two, those with wealth and power both ignoring the law and bending the law to their will, making laws that benefit them.

Edit: MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito's take on the bills.