SOPA and PIPA: Let's Pause and Write Rational Piracy Legislation
Both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Representative Lamar Smith (R-Tex) have decided to postpone further action on the piracy bills that have led to some of the biggest protests in web history. With President Obama and FCC Chairman Genachowski both agreeing that some response to piracy is necessary, the fight against the first iteration of SOPA may be over, but the task of negotiating rational legislation is just getting started.
We have seen generalizations about how piracy legislation would negatively affect American business and innovation, but there has been very little time to develop a better understanding of what these negative impacts might be. With this in mind, I had a chance to sit down with Eugene Lee, the CEO of SocialText, a social networking service provider for corporations that operates on the software as a service model, to talk about how SOPA, PIPA, and future piracy legislation might have impacted both his business and the SAaS industry as a whole.
How would SOPA and PIPA, if they were passed in their current form, affect your business?
SOPA and PIPA has become a web issue, the way these bills are written they apply to all users of the web. This over-generalization could put a damper on productive uses of technology and user generated content – which has implications for situations that were not envisioned by the movie and music industry.
A literal interpretation of these laws could fundamentally cripple how people collaborate; it could reduce the strategic, competitive advantage American companies have developed because we are so used to using powerful, social, tools to share knowledge and empower knowledge workers.
For example, Socialtext primarily uses a software as a service delivery model. Over the last ten years we have watched as corporations not only share internal knowledge, documents and expertise, but incorporate content from all over the web in these conversations.
SOPA and PIPA, if passed in their current form, would cause corporate attorneys and regulatory oversight to pause and re-examine collaboration within the corporation. They would have to ask whether companies were approaching collaboration in a legal, supportable way, which is an absurd setback.
Do you think piracy is a problem?
Definitely. People should be able to benefit from their creation, and that creation should be protected whether by copyright, trademark, patent, etc.Continued on the next page