A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

Summary: The solution to SOPA won't be found in Washington - and shouldn't be. The only way to really combat piracy is for Silicon Valley and Hollywood to start working as a team.

SHARE:

By now, you've surely heard of SOPA and PIPA - the black bar over the Google logo all day yesterday was probably the first clue. Google, Wikipedia and others were among the big online companies protesting The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), a similar bill in the U.S. Senate.

The bills, which aimed to curb piracy across the Internet, fell under fire not because of what they're trying to accomplish, but instead because of how they go about accomplishing it. The bills essentially shift the burden of policing the Internet for piracy from the copyright holders to third-parties, such as social networks, web sites, blogs or search engines.

No one is a fan of online piracy but Google shouldn't be forced to alter its search results (read: censor) just because it indexed a web page that contained an unauthorized copy of an image or a YouTube clip that was posted without permission. The burden is in the wrong place - copyright holders should be the one to notify the proper entities when they spot illegal use.

Wednesday's online protests spread like wildfire on the Internet, via blogs, tweets and social media. Within hours, members of Congress (who are already dealing with record-low approval ratings) started backpedaling on their support for the bills, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a one-time co-author of PIPA.  President Obama had said days earlier that he would not support the bill.

So what does that mean? Victory for the people? Hollywood gives up? Ha. I didn't think so either.

Kick Washington to the curb

The biggest problem with letting Washington set the stage for this latest debate is that - again - the burden is in the wrong place. Just as it's not Google's responsibility to police the Internet, it's not Washington's responsibility to come up with a solution to this problem. It's the responsibility of the copyright holders - the RIAA, the MPAA, the studios, the labels and so on. There's a constant call for smaller government so it makes no sense to bring Washington in to try to save the day for something that can - and should - be handled by Hollywood and Silicon Valley, two regions who seem to have more money that Washington these days.

Here's an idea: Let's create some jobs in Hollywood, some techie jobs where geeks with Hollywood money work around the clock (like startup mode) to develop innovative new tools for fighting back against the pirates. Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley, entrepreneurial piracy-fighting geeks meet deep-pocketed venture capital guys and a business is born.

You can't sit there and tell me that the Chinese and the Russians who have figured out how to use technology to build massive piracy operations are smarter than our own American techies who can probably come up with some really innovative ways to fight back.

Hollywood and Silicon Valley could join forces

There's been a long time sibling-like rivalry between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Consider how SoCal once owned the music industry but, as the push toward digital became more like an avalanche, the power shifted to the tech companies in NorCal, notably Apple. Piracy has only further strained the relationship between the two industries.

So here's an opportunity for two squabbling cousins to shake hands, partner up and develop ways to combat these big piracy rings - either by doing a better job of blocking them or developing better business models so your customers won't even bother with the pirates. Hollywood helped the tech industry push the popularity of gadgets. Now, maybe Silicon Valley can help the entertainment industry to protect itself.

Whatever you do, please kick Washington to the curb already. They already have enough drama going on over there. We don't need them screwing this up, too.

Related coverage:

Topics: Browser, Enterprise Software, Piracy, Security

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

32 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Amen

    I see a lot of whining about "big bad government" (which usually turns out to be someone else's "law and order" or "moral imperative") but very little effort to come up with workable alternatives (but a lot of pontificating about how the free market will do it all for us without any effort or sacrifice on anyone's part).<br><br>Historically, it's been the responsibility of copyright holders to enforce their franchises (not "property") and I think that's still the best way to proceed. If nothing else, private enforcement efforts help to gauge how much the copyrights are actually worth.
    John L. Ries
    • RE: A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

      @John L. Ries

      Would someone like to tell me how web sites have a huge part in piracy????

      Most copyrighted material is distributed via Torrents and besides a title, no copyrighted material is ever present on a website, it's exchanged directly from computer to computer. Has my computer suddenly become a website with a URL?

      Don't make laws you can't enforce and instead start thinking of methods to exploit people's essentially honesty fior payment rather than punishing people "pour encourager les autres".

      It also should be a reuirement that legislators actually understand the legislation they are putting forward - I see no evidence of that.
      tonymcs@...
      • RE: A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

        @tonymcs@... Think about it: these are the same people making laws for medicine, weapons, transportation, food supplies, etc.! Basically, you can hire congressional aides to write the laws you want because there's little chance congress-folk will actually read it.
        myangeldust
      • RE: A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

        @tonymcs@...

        Actually, one could argue that the bittorrent client comprises a distribution list which would likely include in the index users sharing copyrighted materials. The studios could then use that to shut down the revenue stream for your entire ISP if they didn't turn off your internet connection immediately, even if YOU were not downloading or sharing copyrighted material yourself.
        tkejlboom
      • honesty, right you are. once saw a potter in NC that operated on the

        @tonymcs@...

        principle.
        he had a sign that said to put the tagged price in the jar when you leave.
        my friend found the one she wanted, and put the few dollars in the jar.
        great business model.

        :)
        .
        wessonjoe
  • RE: A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

    "... are smarter than our own American techies ..."
    <br>Actually, I can and will tell you that they are at least as smart, if not smarter. With the massive outsourcing to India, Russia and China, the US has lost the lead in many important skills regarding the internet. If you were to ask IBM, HP, Accenture, or Deloitte to come up with a solution, I <b>guarantee</b> that it would be discussed, engineered and implemented using offshore resources.
    terry flores
    • RE: A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

      @terry flores I kind of agree. There's a reason why 80% of my College professors were either Russian, Indian, or Chinese.
      Aerowind
      • The bigger question remains

        @Aerowind <br> [i]There's a reason why 80% of my College professors were either Russian, Indian, or Chinese.[/i]<br><br>Is this based on merit (for some, yes) or discount pay (for some, yes)? As in everything else in the tech, enterprise and American-gone-multinational world.<br><br>It amazes me how well we were able to do only a generation or two back using homegrown talent, and most of the way up to that time, even being the envy of much of the world. But suddenly when we went multinational and one-world, we could no longer find the requisite numbers. In just about every industry too, imagine that (well, those we didn't ship overseas wholesale).
        klumper
  • There's no love for Hollywood for anyone who knows better

    [i]There's been a long time sibling-like rivalry between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Consider how SoCal once owned the music industry but, as the push toward digital became more like an avalanche, the power shifted to the tech companies in NorCal, notably Apple. [/i]<br><br>Those bastardz forfeited control when they started producing abhorrent, tasteless "music" and trashy TV at every turn. 101 channels of mostly garbage that only serves to wear out remotes. That's if you can look past the 50% commercials ratio. Then you have the glut of LCD and PC film-making that dulls the senses. Cookie cutter movies to fill cookie cutter malls.<br><br>Here's a news flash for you: They lost their empirical treasure trove to the more discerning masses first! The avalanche panned from there, even before Apple and the indies filled the void. They spent too much of their precious time sneering at their critics instead of cleaning up their act. And they're still bleeding away numbers since they refuse to get hip and open their greedy eyes. <br><br>I couldn't be happier their pilfering ways are no longer "in the bag" shoo-ins, and are increasingly getting hemmed in. It wouldn't surprise me if Hollywood and its financiers bag as much loot from p0rn these days as they do from legitimate entertainment.<br><br>PS. Even the famed LA 'Wrecking Crew' were put out of business. Their instruments were drowned out by gang-banging rapmeisters and a sea of plastic pied pipers, all of whom Hollywood and the SoCal music industry were perfectly content to promote.
    klumper
    • Agreed

      @klumper
      Hollywood has lost its creative edge. All we get now are remakes of TV sitcoms and superheroes. TV has sacrificed talent for voyeurism, which is what reality TV really is. What passes for celebrity now wouldn't have enjoyed even 15 minutes of fame 20, 30, or 40 years ago.
      sissy sue
    • core issue

      @klumper <br>Somewhat in the same direction. Am I to pay practically US$1 for a digital MP3 that can be downloaded by millions? How much should I pay for a 700 MB AVI version of a movie?? Com'n. That's like charging me for a mail stamp with a Picasso as if it were the original painting. Before coming up with Hollywood-Silicon Valley's solutions, why don't you start dealing with the Hollywood-Silicon Valley (et al)'s acts of piracy? And, how much do those industries and individuals pay for the free instant exposure to millions they get through the internet? Many, many of those victims to their "copyrights" wouldn't be known but at their mother's house had it not been for the internet. And, what about those endless copyrights? How many years should anybody live out of a work done? The vast majority of mankind is happy if they get paid on time for what they do. And why should there be copyright for some and not for others? How much revenue from royalties are the designers and builders of the Golden State or Empire State Building or Interstate Highway X getting from people using them? I am addressing the author of this article. First, bring to the table the core issue: Who should have which rights over what kind of work, for what reason and for how long?
      warmpen
      • RE: A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

        @warmpen
        true.
        docesam
  • Give Washington The Boot!

    We should just kick ALL of the elected officials out of office, set term limits and take back Our Government. The special interest and lobbying forces are currently in control. I am proud that we as Americans start to question the politicians and their goals!
    artmanjr
    • And how do legislative term limits help?

      @artmanjr <br>From what I've seen, what they mostly do is to harden party lines, cause career politicians to move from office to office to office (or maybe a think tank or lobby, or political consultancy), and strengthen the hands of lobbyists and bureaucrats, none of which is particularly useful.

      They certainly don't eliminate politics as a career choice.
      John L. Ries
      • RE: A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

        @John L. Ries Agreed. Not to mention that term limits can also mean you get a steady stream of people with little to no experience in running a complex government at that level. It's no coincidence that a few years after we instituted term limits here in Michigan, we started having a massive budget crisis every year as they could no longer figure out how to balance a state budget!
        KenMarable
    • RE: A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

      @artmanjr
      "I am proud that we as Americans start to question the politicians and their goals!"

      And not a minute too soon.

      However, Sam Diaz writes, "There???s a constant call for smaller government." I don't agree. There are plenty of people in America who still see government as the solution to all problems. It is only an increasing number of cynics who see that government often IS the problem.
      sissy sue
    • RE: A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

      @artmanjr +1
      athynz
  • RE: A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

    How about the content owner stop trying to rip off their customers with different regions to control pricing and restrict parallel importing? How about releasing material globally at the same time? If this was done less piracy would occur.

    In the past the only revenue came from box office revenue and licensing to TV stations for movies. Now it's DVDs Blu Rays etc but the cost is rediculous for some movies. Don't even get me started on the salaries for so called stars, get costs under control and reduce prices.
    rortmanns
  • RE: A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

    Hollywood is hardly opposed to tech. They love how it has lowered costs of distribution and production.

    The problem is that the core of the business is distribution, which is the exchange of rights for the medium, geography, and time period of exhibition for money. That this business currently has a more volatile upside is the other edge of the double-edged sword of lower production, reproduction, and distribution costs.

    In the connected world, do European rights mean anything, except through artificial impediments which ultimately come down to saying no to customers who want to buy something at the time and place of their choosing?

    Cries of piracy are cynical attempts to lock down new channels because they are likely to create new winners in, well, maybe it's Dubuque instead of Hollywood, this next go round. Hollywood wasn't the first US entertainment capital. (New York was. The NY-based exhibitors spun off the production in the early 20th century and sent those companies west to facilitate a "theft" of the patents owned and enforced by Edison.)

    There's more content and more ways to deliver. Entertainment is elastic. I just don't see how technology is going to compensate for the stresses on Hollywood's distribution business.
    DannyO_0x98
  • RE: A better SOPA: Create Silicon Valley jobs in Hollywood, give Washington the boot

    I agree that there needs to be a compromise. I don't want folk ripping off music/movies and such yet I also am a big advocate of fair use of information. The near draconian legislation that Congress wanted to inact deserved the scrutiny that wiki and others gave it. :)
    lylejk