Free Speech

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
eric schmidt, free speech, protect ip


Google Points Out That PROTECT IP Would Be A 'Disastrous Precedent' For Free Speech

from the good-for-google dept

While there have been a a couple of politicians speaking out against the very questionable PROTECT IP Act, we hadn't heard much from various companies that would be seriously impacted by the law. Thankfully, they're starting to speak up, starting with Google. Eric Schmidt warned that passing PROTECT IP would set a "disastrous precedent" for free speech, and that Google would fight against it passing, and suggested the company would fight the law in court if it did pass:
"I would be very, very careful if I were a government about arbitrarily [implementing] simple solutions to complex problems," he said. "So, 'let's whack off the DNS'. Okay, that seems like an appealing solution but it sets a very bad precedent because now another country will say 'I don't like free speech so I'll whack off all those DNSs' -- that country would be China.

"It doesn't seem right. I would be very, very careful about that stuff. If [the UK government] do it the wrong way it could have disastrous precedent setting in other areas."
Of course, the problem here is that those in favor of PROTECT IP don't seem to understand the technology that they're regulating. So they don't realize that they're trying to create a "simple solution to complex problems," and don't recognize that they're effectively breaking the internet and infringing on free speech rights. It's not because they don't like free speech. It's because they don't understand what they're doing, and lobbyists for the entertainment industry insist this is needed to "fight piracy." The problem is that this won't "fight piracy" and will have massive unintended consequences. It's good that Google is willing to make this an issue.

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  1. icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), 19 May 2011 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: NO, IP PROTECT would be distasterous for Google's profits

    It's always refreshing to have an opposing point of view that isn't "omg pirates are thieves!". For that, I thank you. :)

    I'm thinking of it kind of like a physical store:

    This is your first logic mistake. Whenever (ever!) you try an equate scarce goods to infinite goods, it's broken. (Admittedly, I've done it on several occasions!)

    My album is definitely not as good as any Zeppelin album

    If your music isn't as good as another band's music then don't blame piracy for when I pick it over yours-- blame your lack of talent. This is how the market should work. The current system can be gamed; You can, as you said, try and sell your music at a lower price than a more talented band or you can dump tons of money into marketing to "sell" a mediocre band. In a world where music isn't sold, but used as marketing, only good music will survive because music will be consumed based solely on its own merits. Surely this is the ideal situation, yes?

    I don't think the current scenario is necessarily bad on the whole, just that it's not the wonderland for indies that it's sometimes made out to be.

    I slightly disagree. I think that at the present time a forward-looking, talented artist could make a killing for exactly the reason you stated above-- you would undercut the competition drastically. You should also factor in the goodwill you'd gain by legally allowing your music to be shared. Of course, this doesn't help an artist with no talent-- which is what I feel the *real* fear of piracy stems from. (perhaps, subconsciously) I emphasize at the present time because I foresee the level playing field in the future so the goodwill will evaporate (it will be normal) and it's hard to undercut 'free'. So many business models that will work today *can* bank on the goodwill of the fans for not attacking 'pirates'. (or, even better, intentionally sharing their music for free) Strike while the iron is hot, and all that. :)

    Some posters' names are links to their music/art/blog/whatnot

    I said many, not all, and I specifically said the artists that come here and wail about the evils of piracy. Then again, maybe I answered my own question-- perhaps those artists are so afraid of 'lost sales' (and they think everyone here at TD is pirates) that they don't want us to know about it. Who knows.

    I've saved a link to your site to Springpad, my cloud brain of choice, and will check it out. I encourage you to make an account here and participate in more discussions-- it gets old only hearing "nu-uh!" and "you're all thieves!" from people who disagree.

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