SOPA/PIPA - what really stunts the growth of the Digital Economy?

The recent furore about SOPA and PIPA has set me thinking afresh about my position on copyright ownership legislation. I myself suffer, albeit in a very small way, from the kind of pirates being targeted by the bills and regularly find my Indian classical arrangement of Silent Night being illegally sold by pirate sites in China and elsewhere.  It’s frustrating but my views on the topic are not simply to create the biggest hammer possible to crush the activity.

What really stunts growth and adoption of the Digital Economy?

There is something wider at work here beyond simply piracy. The short term view, adopted by SOPA, is to instigate moderately Draconian measures impacting the architecture of the internet. My colleague Ari Osur has written an excellent post that clearly outlines how this might affect the world of the Marketer should SOPA/PIPA transpire in its current form. 

A longer term view to the solution is that this piracy is mostly happening in emerging digital economies and that it is informally permissible until they mature.  Joe Karaganis published a seminal report on Media Piracy in 2011 which took a fresh look at the topic with many case studies taken from emerging economies. One quote which sticks out is :

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Ham-Handed SOPA Loses Momentum, But This Issue Isn’t Dead

So it appears that the progress of SOPA and PIPA is grinding to a halt, largely due to the massive online backlash inflamed by the influential new generation of digitally focused companies like Google, Amazon.com, and Facebook.  For interactive marketers, this is a good thing.  But protecting content creators from online piracy is fundamentally important and the movement is funded by deep pockets.  If SOPA and PIPA are dead in their current incarnations, they’re certain to resurface in another form.  The new question for interactive marketers and the online community is whether that new form will be more realistic, fair, and effective in terms of enforcement and compliance.

As a refresher, the twin online anti-piracy bills in the U.S. legislature sought to give copyright holders and U.S. attorneys general the power to stop foreign-based websites from linking to or displaying copyrighted content like movies and music without permission.  But the bills are extremely far-reaching and complicated and could potentially up-end the operations of any website that allows users to post content or has links to other sites – which is basically every site out there.

Why are SOPA and PIPA bad news for marketers?  They would potentially:

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A Unified Digital Europe. Is It Possible?

 

Yesterday the European Commission outlined its ambition to create a “genuine Digital Single Market” by 2015. You can read the whole text here if you have some time to kill . . .

 http://ec.europa.eu/news/economy/120111_en.htm

It has the bold aim of “doubling the shares of the internet economy in European GDP and of online sales in European retail by 2015.”

Bold? Not half!

Like many EU documents of this sort, it’s big on ambition but frustratingly light on the “how.” In short, the document outlines 5 key blockers to cross-border growth in the EU, as follows:

·         The supply of legal, cross-border online services is still inadequate.

·         There is not enough information for online service operators or protection for internet users.

·         Payment and delivery systems are still inadequate.

·         There are too many cases of abuse and disputes that are difficult to settle.

·         Insufficient use is made of high-speed communication networks and hi-tech solutions.

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