A Positive Spin on SOPA and PIPA

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Free online knowledge site Wikipedia will shut down for 24 hours beginning at midnight eastern standard time in protest at draft anti-online piracy legislation before the US Congress. (Karen BLEIER/Getty)

Wednesday sites like Wikipedia and Reddit pulled the plug for 24 hours to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), acts that threaten the existence of such sites. SOPA is up for heated debate not only in congress, but online also. Steve Tepp, who represents the working man in Hollywood, and Scott Harbinson, who deals with movie business clients, discuss why they support SOPA and PIPA.   

Steve Tepp is the chief intellectual property counsel for the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Scott Harbinson is the international representative of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage.


Scott Harbinson and Steve Tepp

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Comments [16]

Piracy will continue to hit the entertainment industries because there is a flaw in the theory that prices are set according to "what the market will bear". Smart folks will realize quickly that it's better to rent, borrow, or pirate that movie or album. Everyone else will eventually go broke.

Now for the dark side of pirating. When one downloads a movie or song, the website hosting that data is uploading malware onto the visiting computer. These sites are mostly foreign and they aren't doing this for the fun of it. The next time there's a cyber attack your computer could be helping the perpetrators.

Jan. 19 2012 09:47 AM
mik from Manny-hatty

Noticed the blackouts yesterday and loved them.
Also appreciated how they redirected you to contact info for your congress-folk. I called, emailed and faxed all my senators and congresmen as well as the white house. It's the least we can do.

On the life-style side, I think it's important and reflective to go off-line.
This reminds one and enlightens the young that there were about 2000 years of mod human history before the IV of the internet. We should sharpen our interpersonal skills by not being so reliant on this media.

I'm a photog / film-maker who has been pirated all over the internet and it sickens me, but I'm still against SOPA _PIPA.

Jan. 19 2012 07:43 AM

It's funny how they say American jobs are on stake, when SOPA/PIPA will kill tens (hundreds?) of thousands of jobs in USA.

Jan. 19 2012 06:33 AM
Richard Snow from Boston

The news commentary today has not explained the critical points about this legislation:
1) It allows copyright holders to effectively take down entire web domains on suspicion of enabling theft of intellectual property. The current law already allows copyright holders to take down specific infringing content.
2) It effectively eliminates the ability to sue those who issue the complaint based on lost revenue in the case of spurious claims.
3) The existing law works, we don't need a new law. A renegotiated bill is just as bad because there is no need for this legislation.

Jan. 18 2012 11:29 PM
Mike from Renton, WA

The best possible solution is probably going to be some combination of carrot and stick. Some kind of enforcement with teeth combined with some plan that acknowledges the moving target nature of this problem.

Legislation alone isn't going to fix it. Trying to circle the wagons around existing commerce methods isn't going to effectively address it. Just as with the economy in general, this is a problem of either diminishing revenue or in search of new revenue streams.

Telling resourceful ingenious thieves outside our reach that the answer is "no" hasn't and likely won't stop them. Trying to draw discriminating lines between those who are and aren't thieves is likely to be equally ineffective. It's likely to fluctuate between too little or too much in search of just right. It will reel in the innocent and leave leeway for those with little regard for the boundaries set by law.

Jan. 18 2012 08:59 PM
Mike from Renton, WA

SOPA and PIPA are like campaign finance reform, banking regulations, the SEC, Disney and the public domain, millionaire tax cuts. Need a better picture? Philo Farnsworth, Xerox PARC, the EV1, the Tucker, the intermittent windshield wiper, sub prime mortgates, Bernie Madoff, Jack Abramoff, Bradley Manning, Kevin Mitnick.

There are ways around, under, over the law. If necessary rewrite the laws, overlook the laws. Or drive a semi through a hole the size of the Grand Canyon with a sign on the side of it, "a billion dollars and counting", "government secrets, who's watching".

Better mousetrap meet better mouse, meet inattention, meet private gain, meet cutting corners, meet sloppy (or no) security, meet no one watching (or simply enforcing the rules), meet enforcement without resources, meet this wasn't supposed to happen, meet "didn't know you could do that", meet new technology and methods rendering existing methods and enforcement obsolete, meet old fashioned tried and true methods - social engineering, organized crime, insider collaboration.

There's a warm feeling to be had here because there's motion. But as every boss knows, motion and progress are not one and the same.

Smile for the camera. There's no such thing as bad publicity.

Jan. 18 2012 12:34 PM

Just getting around to responding on the SOPA/PIPAA issue, but it seems to me that this could all be settled by legislators meeting with Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc. and asking for their opinion on how to handle this situation. I can understand the fear on the parts of these companies because while on the one hand, this legislation is supposed to control non-US pirates for the most partand help our own companies, once the language is out there, it can be manipulated by any lawyer or judge for their own purposes.

Jan. 18 2012 12:07 PM
Jim Collins from Chelmsford, MA

I'm disappointed you failed to find a voice to counter your two pro SOPA guests who appeared on your show this morning. Was this absence by design? It seems impossible you couldn't find anyone qualified to talk to the anti SOPA side of the argument.

The analogy by the guest from the Chamber of Commerce regarding SOPA being equivalent to banks having to report of money laundering is false... if SOPA was applied to the banking analogy, it would imply the ability by the US judicial system to completely drop a bank from the international banking system merely because a single one of that bank's customers was found to be laundering money. That is a mechanism the banking industry would never accept because each individual bank fears they might find themselves in that situation regardless of their best efforts to assure zero tolerance of customers laundering money.

- Jim Collins

Jan. 18 2012 10:27 AM
Kristen from Pittsburgh, PA

In response to your question about Wikipedia, I have to chime in. I am a college professor. I strictly forbid the use of Wikipedia for papers because of its unreliability. I tell my students that the bibliography on each article can give them good leads, but I've seen too many laughable errors on Wikipedia to trust it at all for research. I also know there are internet trolls out there who delight in entering errors into Wikipedia pages. So, while I support the open and free exchange of knowledge, Wikipedia is not the answer.

Jan. 18 2012 10:08 AM
Jeff Breitner from Ann Arbor, MI

Scott Harbinson and Steve Tepp are correct in their assertion that that SOPA and PIPA are narrow in scope; narrow minded and the equivalent of burning down your house to solve a termite problem. They state that they wish not to harm the marketplace of the internet, and that right there shows they fail to comprehend the outrage. The internet isn't just a giant mall.

No one disputes piracy and theft of intellectual property are problems, but this law gives incredible powers to corporations and the government to shut-down sites with little oversight and no redress should the shutdown be in error.

Corporations will be unable to resist making copyright and intellectual property claims when faced with negative criticisms. Ask yourself if the online information about CarrierIQ and their monitoring software on cell phones would have seen the light of day with SOPA or PIPA?

This law is dangerous. The companies need to find a way other than squelching the rights and redress of people who are not criminals.

Jan. 18 2012 09:50 AM

So a peaceful and legal protest like Winkipedia voluntarily shutting down to make a political point can be discussed and critiqued in a one sided discussion but the outrageous actions of Occupy protesters yesterday at The White House is not to be discussed at all?

Talk about voluntarily shutting down information to make a political point.

Jan. 18 2012 09:46 AM
Mariana from Boca Raton

I don't understand why we have people who don't understand the internet writing legislation censoring the internet.This is ridiculous and a violation of our rights. We need to have a bill that is written correctly, and not by "Hollywood" lobbyists.

Jan. 18 2012 09:44 AM
Scott Lewis from Newton, MA

The defense for the idea of not taxing capital gains is SOOOO Bogus! They say that taxing capital gains means taxing income that's already been taxed. It's the GAINS that are taxed - not the capital! The gains are new income made by passively sitting on old money. It should be taxed at a HIGHER, not lower rate. Give me a break!

Jan. 18 2012 09:36 AM
Desiree from Park Slope Brooklyn

Why are you only talking about Wikipedia?
It's not the only site that has gone dark. So has Craigslist, Reddit and others have also gone dark.
I also believe you might explain better to listeners who aren't aware what the broader reaching implications of something like SOPA are.
It feels like you are belittling the ramifications by focusing so much on Wikipedia.

Jan. 18 2012 09:29 AM
RJ from Prospect hts

Wikipedia is a nice idea, but as a professional copyeditor I cannot rely on it--it's too uncertain, it's sources too often dicey. I'm a bit stunned to be hearing how many NPR programs I've been listening to say they "rely" on it. That's more worrisome than the loss of it today. As for the bills: I'd have to see the details and the analysis. Content piracy is a massive problem--unfortunately it's mostly for the big corporations that take copyright rather than the actual artists who create the content. The practices the ISPs etc. are complaining about do sound onerous. So I'd have to read the thing for myself to consider which side has the stronger case.

Jan. 18 2012 09:13 AM
Chris Rapier from Pittsburgh

The pirates are smarter than legislators. This law won't do anything to stop piracy because the mechanisms that the law uses are easily circumvented. You don't need the domain name if you know the IP address. Blocking IP addresses from every ISP in the US is much more complicated and would require an American version of the Great Firewall of China. Even then people will just create new methods to share files and within a very short time that will become easy to use and widespread. All these bills do are give the government a legal method to shutdown websites.

Jan. 18 2012 09:10 AM

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