As Congress Explore New Awful Copyright Plans, Maximalists Look To Rewrite The History Of SOPA/PIPA

from the say-what-now? dept

As we noted, there's an effort underway, lead by Senator Thom Tillis' office, to rewrite copyright laws in a manner that is even "friendlier" to Hollywood -- which is kind of insane, given just how far the laws have been bent to favor Hollywood over the years, and against the public. Of course, for the past decade or so, significant updates to copyright law have mostly been a kind of third rail issue in Congress (with a few notable exceptions), as the memory of the SOPA/PIPA protests still lingers. However, with this new approach brewing, it seems that some wish to rewrite that history.

Gene Quinn from IP Watchdog -- a site that tends to support an extreme maximalist viewpoint mostly on patents, but sometimes on copyright as well -- has an amazingly weird post, supporting a more maximalist copyright reform, playing off a new paper from ITIF. If you don't recall, ITIF wrote the original paper that became SOPA. It was that think tank's policy proposal that was molded into the awful bill that would have fundamentally changed how the internet worked. So, you should already be somewhat skeptical of ITIF's "policy recommendations" on copyright -- starting with the very idea that "digital piracy" is a "scourge" that requires laws to stop.

As we've shown in great detail using the industry's own "piracy" numbers, changes to the law to ratchet up copyright enforcement have failed to decrease piracy. What does decrease piracy is putting in place laws that enable more innovation and experimentation around new licensed services with a variety of business models.

But, not surprisingly, that's not the focus of any reform effort. Still, what's most amazing in Quinn's piece is his rather insane attempt to rewrite the history of SOPA/PIPA. If you weren't around when it happened nearly a decade ago, (Gene was, so he has no excuse), a wide coalition of people all got together to point out how dangerous the law would be for a functioning internet, and how it would stifle speech, harm innovation, and (worst of all) break certain technical elements being used to make the internet more secure -- all so Hollywood could continue to tilt at windmills and pretend that "piracy" was being attacked. As more and more people (with very diverse ideological backgrounds) all came to realize how dangerous SOPA/PIPA was, they organized a day of protest on the internet, which set phones ringing throughout Congress, urging elected officials to rethink that plan. One by one, Senators and Representatives dropped their support of the bill, and it never moved forward.

That's not how Gene Quinn describes it however. In his version "hacker groups" (?!?) threatened to shut down the internet (?!?!?!?!?) if SOPA passed:

About a decade ago, Congress was poised to do something about rampant copyright infringement on the Internet. They were ready to take a bold step that would protect content creators. These bills were met with threats from hacker groups to take down the Internet if they were enacted, and Congress caved.

Again, that's not even remotely accurate. It was pointed out that implementing SOPA/PIPA would have made the internet less secure by breaking the DNS system, and that could lead to more attacks, but that's... not what Quinn is saying. And of course, when he presents something so blatantly incorrect, and so devoid of historical accuracy, it should make you call into question basically everything else he's saying regarding this particular topic.

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Filed Under: congress, gene quinn, pipa, rewriting history, safe harbors, sopa, thom tillis


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2020 @ 6:34am

    HACK THE WORLD!


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