Law & Business Post!
There are a million better explanations than this one as to why SOPA and PIPA are bad. But to someone like me copyright enforcement is really just about money. The sad thing is, things like integrity and the notion of “theft” about music and movies in the context of internet piracy are all artificially grafted into the mainstream consciousness, to serve money. It’s not a natural concept to apply it to mass media. I think maybe when it was print publishing’s earlier days, it made sense. But now? It’s like bottling air and selling it to people. It’s unfortunate you have so many people using these emotional and irrational notions to argue their cases. (What was the thing Socrates said about persuasion? Oh hey they do that in American law schools don’t they.)
But that goes both ways–there’s nothing wrong about bottling air and selling it to people. Or water, for that matter. Fresh water is one of the hardest thing to get, and we cannot live without it. Or at least live without dysentery. It is very much about putting money where it counts, but at the same time doing it in a way that respects the nature of the thing. If we want to inject any kind of morality into this situation anyways. And I still fail to see why we should, besides as an alternative to more elaborate, truthful, and rational reasons why we might want to support laws that protect IP creators. They tend to be subpar alternatives, I’m inclined to think. These are alternatives that can be used to manipulate a body of lawmakers to pass laws primarily motivated to profit one party’s bottom line over another, at the cost of a legitimate and potentially greater good to society.
The truth is, the copyright code is not written with the common man in mind. It is written for companies and businesses and libraries and guilds and schools and such. It doesn’t even care about software publishers. Just look at who were in those legislative caucuses for the 1986 copyright code, the foundation of today’s US copyright law. In the 90s when the US Copyright Code was amended to take care of the internet, well, it was written in the 90s. The internet is profoundly a different thing since the 90s. But in regards to the Copyright Code, people were asking the same questions back then as they do now. It made as much sense as it did as it does today. Which is to say, it doesn’t even make sense to most lawyers! [Free book on this, great read.]
That is also why I don’t think we should care (much about) how SOPA can be used to censor legitimate speech, or kill anime blogging, or whatever. Those are simply unconstitutionally broad provisions that deserve to die, and even if passed would not come to. I think it distracts from the core discussions on issues behind SOPA, and generally internet & copyright and other systemic problems that lead us down this road in the first place.
SOPA/PIPA are pretty much the same kind of patchwork as what we have today. Except there are no lobbyists for the American people. Even organizations like the EFF kind of lets you down, because it can’t override the system: in the end our legislative system bases itself on the individual voters as the core voice for their elected officials. Is that tin-can-on-a-string sort of communication-representation working? It does when you call or write or whatever your congressperson. And it only does when you do that. It doesn’t do it when you “vote with your wallet.” No number of copies of Fate/Zero preorders will change this. Or for that matter, the only thing worse is when you boycott. Seriously, don’t boycott anime. Boycott, I don’t know, BP or something actually meaningful. Or at least boycott someone like GoDaddy, guh, I don’t know why people sign with them at all ever in the first place.
The real way to ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWAH is to replace it. Go to NYC or San Jose or something, start a company. If Hollywood and the recording industry really suck, then you can make money in the vacuum that they are overlooking. A Steve Jobs sure did. And someone like him contributes to society way more than any RIAA goon or random Internet Quarterback has ever did, and Jobs isn’t even a nice guy, for example. Or, hey, if those SOPA hearing makes you want to run for Congress, well, politics can make for an exciting career!
This is why I prop companies like Crunchyroll. Because they are a force of change for the better. They see a business that they can capitalize on and exploit, and they did. That changes things. It brings simulcast out from the ghetto and into, well, 21st century standards. And as it should be, right?
Let companies like Funimation and Section23 pick over the half-dead body of the home video market. It’s their jobs. It’s not to say home video will die–it won’t. In fact it’ll remain profitable (and it will continue to have my money for sure). It just won’t grow and develop into the Pocket Monster Master that anime used to be 10 years ago. It won’t bring change, at least not any foreseeable sort of change that hasn’t already happened 15 years ago. It will not increase the freedom of a society, or bring new ways for fans to interact with content creators and with each other (as these things have already been accomplished to the extent home video is capable of doing). All it’s going to do is to look at the same spreadsheets and balances and market data and pray that by doing the same business they’ve done for over a decade, that they will still be able to put food on the table.
I suppose that’s fine and all, but if I had a choice to reward those who seek to improve the current situation versus those who are just keeping the status quo, I think the choice is obvious. It’s about what you do with the money, not who has it.
Because, to someone like me, when Funi sued ADV, it’s also just about money, too. Funi had an obligation to realize the value that their Japanese overlord had as creditor. It was bound to happen. The question was just how it mattered and how can Funi soften the blow that it will invariably have against themselves and the defendant. Commercial litigation is just a protracted negotiation since something like 90% of them settle. It costs money to play the game, no matter who you are. And there are risks for both sides. Both companies have my best wishes that they can wrap up what they need to get done, and soon.