These past couple weeks have been a strange and unsettling time in the ever-more-murky world of copyright and intellectual property. The most concerning development is the proposed PROTECT IP act, the easier to say but still difficult to swallow successor to COICA, has been submitted in Congress. Immediately following the bill’s introduction a number of individuals, organizations and experts have expressed their discomfort with both the bill itself and the implications it has for the future of information exchange.
We at Demand Progress have been an adamant voice in opposition to both of these bills, follow the link and add your voice to ours. (http://act.demandprogress.org/sign/protectip_docs)
One of the most glaring problems with PROTECT IP, and COICA before it, is the tenuous grasp that lawmakers do not grasp the true implications of this bill, and whom it benefits. This is understandable in light of a recent report (http://www.ipo.gov.uk/ipreview-finalreport.pdf) looking at how laws seeking to stop infringement and copyright violations come about. It shows that most of this legislation is justified primarily through the lobbyists of the biggest companies involved, lobbying groups like the RIAA and MPAA. However these positions are nearly always backed by spotty and cherry-picked data, since the evidence is in the companies’ financial records that they are hesitant to make public. The economic picture these industry groups have painted has an almost apocalyptic character. Universal Music Group’s President even claimed earlier this week that infringement was literally killing artists. The findings from the independent report were much less dire:
We conclude that many creative businesses are experiencing turbulence from digital copyright infringement, but that at the level of the whole economy, measurable impacts are not as stark as is sometimes suggested.
There is very little concrete research that has been done on the effects of infringement, much less on the potential effects of bills like PROTECT IP, this should make us extremely wary of blindly accepting claims from the groups who back these bills.
We at Demand Progress have opposed ill-considered restrictions on digital information exchange since the introduction of COICA last year. We sent a petition with more than 325000 signatures to Congress urging them to withdraw the bill and to think critically and deeply about its effects and implications. We stand just as strongly in opposition to PROTECT IP and have created a petition to Congress seeking to defeat this bill. Stop by and sign to help keep the dream of democratic information exchange alive!