At the time of writing this blog, many sites including Wikipedia (English version), and Reddit and various other large and small sites has issued a black-out in protest of the SOPA and PIPA. Google fell short of complete blackout, but has changed its Google “doodle” to a black-rectangle and a page dedicated to its reasoning in opposing the SOPA and PIPA bills.
The SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act, House) and the PIPA (Protect IP Act, Senate) has been a hot debate for the tech industry especially whose business are heavily invested in an open and free flow of information on the internet.
If you are reading this post, you probably already know what the SOPA and PIPA is about, so this post won’t be about how they can be abused and how they are akin to censorship in China. Reddit has a great post outlining the technical aspect of the two bills and you can read it here.
Moving on, here are the primary reasons I think the SOPA and PIPA censorship model does little to nothing to sites dedicated to piracy:
1. The internet is huge, sites can sprang up in hours, one is censored, another comes up. The amount of site that the MPAA and RIAA is targeting is beyond any manual human labor to censor. And unless the SOPA and PIPA intends to stop all internet flow, there will be sites that replace what they just censored — effectively, and quickly.
2. BitTorrent technology which is probably one of the largest headache of SOPA and PIPA works on a distributed resource system, which makes it multiple times harder to keep check. It works on peers connecting to peers via a/several tracker servers that can be located anywhere in the world, at any place, by anyone. The BitTorrent file itself is miniscule and can be provided through a large number of means, and easily. Under the current decade plus old DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act, 1998), many ISP has already complied with request to issue warning/action notice against end-ssers downloading illegal torrents. However, the SOPA and PIPA hardly addresses how to deal with BitTorrent effectively and non-over-broadly on how to curtail pirating, which gets a big huge thumb-down for me.
3. Proxy Server technology easily circumvents any means of SOPA and PIPA has to curtail end-users for pirating. The U.S. government itself funds several Proxy Server projects for people in repressive countries, and the U.S. Government now wants to outlaw what itself supports? If SOPA and PIPA passes, the MPAA and RIAA can reasonably seek the ban of use of Proxy.
To be quite frank, the MPAA and RIAA (largest business lobbying group supporting the SOPA/PIPA) isn’t only targeting piracy, and it doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me that Netflix has caved-in on Warner Brothers’ threat. Last week, Warner Brothers has threatened the removal of its content from Netflix if Netflix does not cave-in to its 56-day delay for new releases. You can read it here.
That 56-delay seems such a random number, and a weirdly thoughtless decision on Warner Brothers’ part to try and increases its disc sales. I really have to stop and ask Warner Brothers: “oReally…?”
Do they seriously think such a delay will magically increase their DVD sales? Many users on the internet has ridicule this move by Warner Brothers by saying: people will just torrent harder. No wonder the MPAA and RIAA wants the SOPA and PIPA to pass so badly.
At the end of the day, the MPAA and RIAA and their members are still operating on a draconian business model. In the day and age, access to contents reliably, quickly, and easily is how you play the game. Here is a hint, offering contents via online distribution without all that RMA restriction might be a good start.
And honestly, driving to a brick-n-mortar store to pick up that CD/DVD on release isn’t as enjoyable as you think.
– PitaByte is a guest blogger on the Myriad Supply blogs. He blogs just about everything, mostly technology related.