Meganomics: The Future of ???Follow-the-Money??? Copyright Enforcement

Addendum: Regarding the monetary harm of Megaupload???s activities, the Justice Department characterized it, without explanation, as ???well in excess of $500,000,000??? since 2006. And although that number is probably meant to impress, it???s somewhat baffling. Even without a per annum breakdown, it comes nowhere near the annual piracy losses claimed by the major industry groups???whether the BSA???s $58 billion loss claims for software losses in 2010 or the ???conservative??? $26 billion estimate for movie, music, and software piracy from 2007, which lazy journalists still allow to circulate. This for the site that MPAA called ???By all estimates??? the largest and most active criminally operated website targeting creative content in the world.???

Since we???re using made up numbers here, let???s make up some more???and for the sake of argument, some extremely favorable ones for the Justice Department???s effort to paint Megaupload as the big bad. Posit that all $500 million in losses came in 2011. Posit the $26 billion loss number. Megaupload???s contribution to the pirate economy tops out at 2%.

“meant to impress” with little other value.

Two lessons from the Megaupload seizure

But just as the celebrations began over the saving of Internet Freedom, something else happened: the U.S. Justice Department not only indicted the owners of one of the world???s largest websites, the file-sharing site Megaupload, but also seized and shut down that site, and also seized or froze millions of dollars of its assets ??? all based on the unproved accusations, set forth in an indictment, that the site deliberately aided copyright infringement.

In other words, many SOPA opponents were confused and even shocked when they learned that the very power they feared the most in that bill ??? the power of the U.S. Government to seize and shut down websites based solely on accusations, with no trial ??? is a power the U.S. Government already possesses and, obviously, is willing and able to exercise even against the world???s largest sites (they have this power thanks to the the 2008  PRO-IP Act pushed by the same industry servants in Congress behind SOPA as well as by forfeiture laws used to seize the property of accused-but-not-convicted drug dealers).

Those who count on quote ???Hollywood??? for support…

???Those who count on quote ???Hollywood??? for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who???s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don???t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don???t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.???

Protect IP (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are a step towards a different kind of Internet.  They are a step towards an Internet in which those with money and lawyers and access to power have a greater voice than those who don???t. 

It is clear that the step toward a democracy “in which those with money and lawyers and access to power have a greater voice than those who don???t” has long since been taken in American politics.

No wonder ex-Senator Dodd is so distressed that he would reveal these disappointed expectations with menace.

My Letter to the Internet – Senator Ron Wyden

The Internet has become an integral part of everyday life precisely because it has been an open-to-all land of opportunity where entrepreneurs, thinkers and innovators are free to try, fail and then try again.  The Internet has changed the way we communicate with each other, the way we learn about the world and the way we conduct business.  It has done this by eliminating the tollgates, middle men, and other barriers to entry that have so often predetermined winners and losers in the marketplace.  It has created a world where ideas, products and creative expression have an opportunity regardless of who offers them or where they originate.

Protect IP (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are a step towards a different kind of Internet.  They are a step towards an Internet in which those with money and lawyers and access to power have a greater voice than those who don???t.  They are a step towards an Internet in which online innovators need lawyers as much or more than they need good ideas.  And they are a step towards a world in which Americans have less of a voice to argue for a free and open Internet around the world.

Not all bad.

Numbers of Mass Distraction: Part 2

It is clear that recent events surrounding SOPA do not represent the end of the war waged by the copyright industries; at most it’s a skirmish they will concede, albeit very grudgingly, as lost. Judging from the experiences we faced in the UK with The Digital Economy Bill (I covered some of those shenanigans here in Musing About Downloads In The UK) dealing with SOPA (and PIPA) is going to be a long hard war of attrition. A war where every one of us needs to understand the weapons being used against us, as well as the absolute flimsiness of the ammunition.

I intended to write another long post on this flimsiness, then found that someone else had done a far better job than I could’ve. So what I shall do instead is to link to the wonderful post on the subject by research fellow Julian Sanchez at the Cato Institute. Headlined How Copyright Industries Con Congress, it’s a must-read. While you’re at it, it’s also worth reading Julian’s earlier piece on the subject in Ars Technica. The elevator version is as follows: numbers related to the value of illegal downloads as well as numbers related to the number of jobs affected are at best wild unsubstantiated estimates, and at worst devious attempts to flim-flam a legislature crying out to be flim-flammed. The $200-$250 billion number, while it came from a sidebar in a reputable magazine, was actually an unsourced estimate of the value of all counterfeit and pirated goods worldwide, and was clearly stated in the magazine as such. And the 750,000 jobs lost number was taken from a 1986 speech by the then Secretary of Commerce, a number that has never been endorsed by the Department of Commerce.

How PIPA and SOPA Violate White House Principles Supporting Free Speech and Innovation

Corporate Right of Action

PIPA and SOPA also still allow copyright holders to get an unopposed court order to cut off foreign websites from payment processors and advertisers.

While this provision only affects foreign sites, it still affects Americans’ free speech rights. As Marvin Ammori explained, “The seminal case of Lamont v. Postmaster makes it clear that Americans have the First Amendment right to read and listen to foreign speech, even if the foreigners lack a First Amendment speech right.” If history is any guide???and we???re afraid it is???we will see specious claims to wholesale take downs of legitimate and protected speech.

[moved this para for sense]

As we have continually highlighted, copyright holders already can remove infringing material from the web under the DMCA notice-and-takedown procedure. Unfortunately, we???ve seen that power abused time and again. Yet the proponents of PIPA and SOPA want to give rightsholders even more power, allowing them to essentially shut down full sites instead of removing the specific infringing content.

Not enough that corporations are nigh immortal, now some are granted further Right of Action, at least those who are already granted State subsidised protection of fantastic rights.

Beyond SOPA: Why ‘Easy’ Solutions Don’t Stop Net Crime – Forbes

Leslie Daigle is chief internet technology officer of the Internet Society, a non-profit founded in 1992 to promote a free and open Internet.

As Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg pointed out in his post ???SOPA Haters Are Already Finding Easy Ways To Circumvent Its Censorship,??? enterprising individuals and organizations are already finding easy ways to evade the Stop Online Piracy Act legislation now before Congress before it has even been passed. Among other things, the widely derided measure proposes using Domain Name System blocking as a solution to online piracy.

While the illegal online activities that SOPA strives to combat such as child pornography, infringement of intellectual property rights and cybercriminal activities are undoubtedly critical issues, they must be addressed in ways that do not undermine the global architecture of the Internet, curtail internationally recognized human rights or threaten e-commerce. Non-technological problems, including cybercrime and infringement of IP, cannot be resolved by using technology as a quick fix. Here???s why.

SOPA is of course only “easy” for a coddled minority, for the rest of us it is costly and futile.

Tim O’Reilly – Further thoughts on SOPA, and why Congress shouldn’t listen???

Further thoughts on SOPA, and why Congress shouldn’t listen to lobbyists

Colleen Taylor of GigaOM interviewed me yesterday by phone on the subject of why I’m opposed to SOPA. Rather than the usual comments about the potential harm to the internet, I focused on the harm to the very content industry that has proposed the law. I highlighted three issues:

Piracy is not the real problem. It’s a symptom of market failure

SOPA protects the wrong people. We need to encourage innovative businesses, not protect those who are unwilling to adapt to new technology

SOPA ignores history. Storied American publishers began as “pirates” in the eyes of the British, yet America grew up to be the largest copyright market in the world.

Read the article:

Lamar Smith Caught Infringing On Photographer’s Copyright

Any time you have someone who is vehemently copyright maximalist, it’s really only a matter of time until someone discovers that they, too, violate copyrights. There had been some questions asked a few months ago about whether or not SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith had licenses to put up videos of news reports on his site, but that didn’t seem like a huge deal (and was likely fair use anyway). However, the latest, as a ton of you are sending in, is that some enterprising folks at Vice discovered that Lamar Smith’s campaign site was making use of a photograph in violation of its Creative Commons license.

‘Nuff said

Lana Del Rey – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge

For over a decade, we have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia. Learn more.

I don’t have to imagine, and it hurts.