If Congress wants to stop online piracy, there's another way. Ban all content which is not creative commons or equivalently licensed material (e.g. GPL) from the internet.
This will kill online piracy as there will be nothing to pirate, only stuff you can copy. Well, almost, as some of that pesky material will still leak online. Hence any infraction should be treated as other security violations and made the responsibility of the copyright holder for not taking enough security measures to ensure that their content never reached the internet.
Certainly it'll make investigations into infringements easier (books and films usually take great pains to specify who wrote them) and you can imagine those future law enforcement conversations ...
"Now, sir. I see your film is available online and has been downloaded and copied 100,000 times. So if it's not a creative commons licensed film then that's a 100,000 security violations. Gosh, Mr CEO, that's going to be a huge fine and prison sentence. Won't you miss your jet and lavish lifestyle? Bet you wish you'd kept that film in a locked safe now don't you, silly billy. Now, are you sure your film wasn't creative commons license because if it was I wouldn't be able to charge you with anything?"
I'm quite convinced that by introducing the above scheme, the amount of people going to prison or being fined for copyright infringement will drastically reduce. We will have in effect stopped online piracy and the crime will cease to be.
Won't that destroy online films?
Of course not, people will still want easy access to content from a convenient and trusted source (such as NetFlix) and where there's demand, supply will follow. The trusted brand is all important and people will still pay a reasonable subscription for it. The content producers will just have to adapt to a world where they can still make money from abundantly used creative commons licensed content rather than scarcity.
Won't that destroy online journalism?
Of course not, people will still want easy access to content from a trusted and respected source which provides an analysis of what is happening. The trusted brand is again all important and advertisers will still want to promote their messages. Certainly, people will copy it, so you'll need to build a loyal following and look at those copying sites as free marketing.
Won't that destroy the online music industry?
Of course not, people will still want to hear their favourite bands live, attend gigs, buy merchandise from the band site and they'd still pay (either through subscription or advertising) for a trusted and useful service. Certainly others will copy it, so you'll need to do the usual - build a loyal following, focus on creating a strong trust relationship and think of those copying sites as free marketing.
Won't that destroy the past models of media?
Well the media industry always cries wolf over piracy and change but certainly forcing them to keep copyrighted material secure will make it difficult for them to distribute. However, since many don't seem willing to adapt to a new world (hence SOPA/PIPA) and the cost of introducing legislation to protect them will harm more future focused industries (i.e. the internet is a component of these) then maybe legislation may be needed to force change.
Even if the content is freely available, I'd still pay to have easy access to it through a useful and trusted service, I'll still want to attend gigs, attend lectures, buy merchandise (even books) and watch movies that include product endorsements etc.
Yes, it will be a different world but either the traditional Media companies adapt to a world where you make money from abundance or the US will need to sacrifice its future competitive position (by harming its internet industry).
It's not like those traditional companies haven't had almost two decades to prepare for this change. What have those media executives been doing - playing golf with Kodak? What did you honestly think that digitisation and the internet was going to do - increase your profits by reducing your distribution costs?
Banning copyrighted material is an extreme option and I do believe in a more balanced approach. However, if the traditional Media industries are going to try and use legislation to avoid change, then someone needs to start thinking about how to use legislation to force them to adapt. Otherwise the US tech companies will be constantly in a defensive, rear guard action against acts like SOPA / PIPA etc.
The best form of defense is a good offense.
Reprinted from G+.