Today in the Wall Street Journal, they walked head on into the debate over SOPA. They made some good points. At Streetwise Professor, Craig made some good points on SOPA as well.
Their arguments and points cause me to think, why am I against SOPA? Is it just because a bunch of internet gurus are against it? (Not really, I think deeper than that)
The reason I am against it is because we already have plenty of laws on the books that stop things like piracy, trademark and copywrite infringement. Heck, my little Hyde Park Angels organization has been trying to trademark it’s name for almost a year right now and we are waiting on the government to approve our application. There are other organizations with similar names, engaged in far different kinds of occupations that also have pending paperwork or already have trademarked their name.
From my experience on the CME board, I know that the wheels of justice move at a snail’s pace. No agency, law, or regulation is going to correct any crimes that are being committed. The best way to change things is through enforcement of laws that are on the books, and to create market incentives to allow free market forces to rebalance everything.
In many cases, big legacy media doesn’t want to innovate and compete. Newspapers are dying. Unless they have a lot of value add reporting like the Wall Street Journal, they really aren’t worth anything. Television news is stale. Even specialized television news is stale. Unless there is something really major happening, you are far better to monitor a well populated twitter feed than pay attention to some talking heads on teevee.
The laws as they are written could curb innovation, or more importantly, dissuade innovators from undertaking the project in the first place. The opportunity costs of these edicts seem to be a lot higher than the cost of piracy.
How much does pirating hurt big media? The Freakonomics boys took a whack at it here. The number that they arrived at was, they don’t know. No one has bothered to correctly count how many dollars are lost through the ills that SOPA/PIPA aim to correct. If you really don’t know, why pass a law?
There are plenty of bad laws on the books already. Let’s start with Sarbanes-Oxley, go to the Patriot Act, move from there to Obamacare, and then end at Dodd-Frank. Did those laws, programs cure the ills they were supposed to solve? No. What they did was create economic disincentives and made the size of government bigger and increased expenses for taxpayers and the marketplace.
That’s enough evidence for me to be against SOPA/PIPA. Hopefully, you will too.