So, for the past several weeks, the Internet has been in an uproar over how bad SOPA is and why everyone should boycott any company who supports it. A lot of that fury has fallen into orbit around Go Daddy, one of the largest website hosting services in the world, which quickly claimed to have changed it’s position on SOPA and now opposes it.
A quote from their press release:
“Fighting online piracy is of the utmost importance, which is why Go Daddy has been working to help craft revisions to this legislation – but we can clearly do better,” Warren Adelman, Go Daddy’s newly appointed CEO, said. “It’s very important that all Internet stakeholders work together on this. Getting it right is worth the wait. Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it.”
Lets run down the list of things wrong with this policy:
- There are many things that should be far more important than fighting online piracy.
- Who wants to vote for legislation that Go Daddy helped craft?
- ALL ‘Internet stakeholders’ includes the billions of users who deserve the freedom to transact content they own in any manner they see fit.
- ‘Getting it right’ is never worth the wait, the perfect is always the enemy of the good, and if they feel that SOPA is better than the status quo, they should support it, even if I don’t.
- Waiting for the ‘Internet community’ to support something is not good policy considering that one of the most vocal segments of Internet contributors is the legendary troll corps that never supports anything and just likes to hate. If Go Daddy is willing to stand down until the ‘Internet community’ will support it, then they have no business supporting legislation and should just keep their mouths shut.
Go Daddy is making the calculation that the content industry groups have the upper hand with the law and anything that strengthens the status quo they figure will be good for them. The point that they are missing is that in the new economy, it is not the information itself that is valuable, but the ability to create it. Content spread to the 4 corners of the earth serves as samples of the creator’s ability to render entertainment.
The only scarcity constraint that truly exists on the supply of entertaining information is the artificial protection of law. To pretend that the law is a force of nature is to perpetuate a fiction that is just waiting to blow up in the faces of everyone who buys into into the fantasy. SOPA is a bad idea and poses a real risk to the free exchange of idea by law abiding members of the human race. Whatever your thoughts on piracy, the nature of information has changed, and to ignore that is to invite a shock to an economy based on misunderstood reality.
At the same time, there exists a real economic need for information creators to be able to retain some level of ownership over what they have created. Capitalism is rooted in the value of property rights as a means of incentivising citizens to continue contributing to the knowledge base of society. Something real and difficult must be done, but more vigorous enforcement of outdated paradigms isn’t the answer.
I recognize that I’m not being fair. I’m pointing a finger at SOPA and saying “that’s wrong!” but I don’t have anything to recommend. All I can say in my defense is that SOPA would serve to persecute the vulnerable of society who recognize the role that technology is taking in the world, for the benefit of a wealthy few whose support for it are only rooted in their investment in the realities of the past. To them I say, the world is different, find your new role.