Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An open letter to Congress on SOPA / PIPA - from Aliens4SOPA

To understand the impact of SOPA / PIPA we need to get rid of some very basic misunderstandings.

First, explosions of industrial creativity DON'T follow the invention of a technology but its commoditisation i.e. it wasn't the invention of electricity but Edison's introduction of utility services for electricity that created an economic boom that led to recorded music, modern movies, consumer electronics and even Silicon Valley.

Electricity is an essential component of these industries and it had to be provided as a standard component before they could flourish.

Now the internet commoditises the means of mass communication i.e. mass communication existed beforehand but the internet turned it into a standard component. Hence we've seen an explosion of industrial creativity based upon this component i.e. Google, Facebook, Twitter etc.

Each time an activity - whether electricity or mass communication or trade - is commoditised, we see explosions of creativity, the formation of future industry and the disruption of past industry. As Edison commoditised electricity provision, new industries formed and past industries such as Gas lighting companies were disrupted.

Those past industries had a choice. They could either consolidate, acquire and adapt which is what they did or they could have tried to get Congress to pass legislation to stifle the electricity market. Had those Gas Lighting Companies succeeded in doing that, then Edison and those future industries such as Hollywood, Silicon Valley, General Electric would never have formed in the US. Instead they would have formed somewhere else and the US would be a fraction of the economic power that it is today.

SOPA is simply an attempt by past industries who face disruption AND refuse to adapt, to persuade Congress to legislate in favour of past models. Its effect will be the same as Gas Lighting companies persuading Congress to legislate against electricity. It's an economic blunder.

You live in global economic market and you compete against other nations. If because of concerns over piracy the US makes such an economic blunder, then as competing nations we will act like pirates by plundering your future. If we don't, China will.

We will happily take Silicon Valley off your hands. Send it to London, we would love it.

We will happily have those jobs, those future industries. If you don't want it, we do.

They key point to understand is the internet is an essential component for future industry just like electricity. Mess with that at your peril.

Of course, Media industries complain about a changing world, they've been crying wolf for decades : "8 track tapes and piracy will destroy recorded music", "video and piracy will destroy the film industry", "internet and piracy will destroy …" blah blah blah blah blah.

Adapt or die is all I'm going to say and if you don't want those future industries please send them to us where we would care for them. So as Alien from a competing nation, I'm all for Congress destroying the US economic future. Go for it.

As they say, fortune favours the brave or more aptly :-


We love you Congress.

PS if you could also persuade the Murdoch empire to shift permanently to the US that would be cool too. We've been giving them hints in the UK but I'm not sure they've got the message.