Consumerization, SOPA and the RIAA

The solution to SOPA and its quest to recover the almighty dollar is the almightier Vote. We don't need another RIAA and we have the power to stop it.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

You might be wondering how I could connect these dots, Consumerization, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), but it didn't take a lot of creativity on my part to do so. There's a lot of industry commentary about SOPA and everyone has their strong opinions of what SOPA is and what it implies. Much to do has been made about its reach and the possibilities for corruption and misuse of the power it bestows on enforcers. To me, it sounds like the RIAA has something to do with this bill (HR 3261). I'm all for protecting copyrights, trademarks and intellectual property rights but like the RIAA, they'll go too far.

Backing up for a moment, let me give you a bit of opinion on the topic of copyrights, trademarks, intellectual property rights and my damn wallet. Years ago, back in High School, I had an old 1973 Javelin, automatic, 304 V8, 4bbl carburetor and headers. It was one of AMC's nicest models. It had an in-dash OEM 8-track tape player. Although vinyl albums were still going strong, the 8-track format was on its last...ahem...track, in favor of the more compact and less noisy cassette tape. But, I had to buy 8-track tapes because that's what I had and I had to like it--even if the tape would invariably split the best songs onto a different track.

Over the course of two or three years, I amassed fifty or more 8-track tapes from my favorite bands: Eagles, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Nazareth, The Cars, Fleetwood Mac, The Doors and many others. No, though I'm from a very small town in Texas, I didn't like country music. The sound of it still sends me into a fit of rage. I digress. Once 8-track tapes were no longer cool and I acquired a different car (Toyota Corolla), I had to switch my collection to cassettes and sell off my 8-tracks for pennies. And, when I say 'switch,' I mean that I had to buy them all again. Yep. Same albums. Same songs. Different format.

The same thing happened to my vinyl album collection of 300+ LPs and a gaggle of 45rpm records. I had to replace them on cassette and then a few years later, CD. I've paid for a handful of downloaded songs from iTunes, Rhapsody and others but I don't feel compelled to replace my whole 500 CD collection with downloaded ones plus any new ones that I want.

My point is that I didn't get to trade-in or exchange one format for another but I was fully expected to shell out the money for the replacement songs on the newer formats. The other option was to do without the thousands of dollars worth of music that I had paid for on all of that media. The RIAA took people to task (and might still be doing so) over downloading and sharing songs on peer-to-peer networks. I never shared any songs or downloaded any because I still have them on CD. I can always rip the songs I want from them, if I want a digital version.

And, I won't feel bad about it nor should I. I've paid multiple times, over the years, for the music that I like. In that respect, I don't feel that I'll violate anything--copyright, trademark or intellectual property. In fact, I think the RIAA owes me some money. I'll hold my breath while they pay up.

In that same sense, SOPA has lofty and admirable goals: To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes.

The downside is that it will become just like the RIAA--levying huge fines and hefty punishments for violations that it identifies--regardless of validity.

SOPA will also cost a lot of money to implement and the fines won't recover those costs--ever. It is another senseless enlargement and empowerment of our government.

The solution for such violations is for the copyright, trademark and IP owner to confront the violator with a 'cease and desist' message. After a reasonable amount of time, if the situation isn't remedied to the satisfaction of the content owner, then the owner can take the violator to court. Problem solved. No government involvement. We just don't need more government involvement in our lives or in our wallets.

The government should butt the hell out and let the people handle these things themselves. And, I hope the good people of my home state of Texas vote Congressman Lamar Smith out of office for his drafting of this tremendous waste of taxpayer resources. He's a fool and I don't suffer them gladly.

I don't like piracy of any kind. I don't like it when people steal. It raises the cost of products for everyone. There are some countries that do nothing to stop piracy and piracy is rampant in those places. If you want to know where, go to the BSA's Research Page and read some reports.

Now, you're asking what does either SOPA or the RIAA have to do with Consumerization. Good question. Consider the scenario of an American company that does business in other countries or has employees in other countries. A lot of them do. A lot of those companies do business and have employees in countries where the most piracy occurs. Are you getting the connection yet?

Let me make it obvious to you.

The tagline of the Bill is: To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes.

So, what happens when a foreign branch of an American company has violated the SOPA? The fines alone would devastate the company. Piracy in some of these popular cheap labor locations is rampant. Prosperity isn't part of that definition.

What SOPA will do is cost Americans a lot of money and cost American companies a lot of money all in the name of American prosperity. Clever. On the positive side, maybe the jobs will come back to America--so, in that sense, maybe I haven't considered ALL of the fallout from SOPA.

SOPA, like the RIAA, is noble in theory but not in practice. And, like the RIAA Nazis, SOPA's power will corrupt absolutely.

Voting Americans: Here is a list of people that you and I put in office that are backing SOPA, right off of the Bill itself:

Mr. SMITH of Texas (for himself and Mr. CONYERS, Mr. GOODLATTE, Mr. BERMAN, Mr. GRIFFIN of Arkansas, Mr. GALLEGLY, Mr. DEUTCH, Mr. CHABOT, Mr. ROSS of Florida, Mrs. BLACKBURN, Mrs. BONO MACK, Mr. TERRY, and Mr. SCHIFF) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

We have the power of the Vote. Let's use it to show this list of malcontents that we want less government, less foolishness and less them.

What do you think of the economic repercussions of SOPA on American business--the very thing that SOPA is supposed to help? Talk back and let me know.

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