Saturday, 7 January 2012

Some thoughts about sopa

This is my first blog on the internet containing some thoughts about sopa

This blog explains sopa in  a very simple language, the source is from whatever i have gathered from the internet these days.

sopa stands for stop online piracy act, this law is aimed at stopping the increasing threat of piracy on the internet.

As we know, we can download almost everything from pirate sites and torrents, this has created a big business challenge for the entertainment industry( and also the tech).  
This law will help to fight online piracy.
Now, if the aim is to fight online piracy, why the opposition? It must also be noted that the opposition is not only from sites which promote piracy, but also from very important and legitimate websites and persons, 

If you google about sopa, you will find out that nearly everyone, who is related to the internet, from its creators, to hardware guys, to software guys all oppose sopa. They do not oppose it because they like piracy, the fact is that their are many pirated products of the tech world also and piracy is a huge problem for them too. The fact is that this law overextends itself.  

I will give you an example ---- suppose i am a fan of pitbull, i want to make a video tribute of pitbull, by taking excerpts of his various songs, I do that and post that on youtube, Somebody cries foul and shouts copyright violation, the result is that i will go to prison, and youtube will be taken down, till the matter is cleared in the court. ( without due process)

Now the problem with this whole scenario are :--
1. how exactly do you define copyright violation, if this law is followed, millions of youtube videos, fb links twitter posts will be considered as violations
2. with such broad definition, it is impossible for the websites to monitor each and every video, posts, comments, links to check for any direct or indirect copyright violation, i.e there is huge implementation costs.
3. If a site like youtube, google, amazon, ebay gets down, it will have a huge impact on online business
4. I think it is an overkill to shutdown the entire site for one users mistake ( it may also be an unintentional mistake
5. this law violates the due process, as the sites are taken down without a hearing, which can go for months to years, the damage is already done.

So, in my opinion this law damages much more then fight piracy, but it is also important that piracy, is curbed, as it stops innovation, so what can be done about it, here are some ideas--

1. it must be realized that there are customers and non customers of a product. A non customer is one who will not or cannot pay for the product anyways, thus even if the most draconian law is passed, the end result will be only that the non customer will not buy the product, so there is no increase of profit. Also their are no extra costs incurred if a non customer  downloads a movie, so in this case there is neither profit nor loss..

2. so basically the loss is coming from the customers who can and will pay for the product, but do not because there is a free alternative, basically this is the segment which has to be targeted. 

3. the entertainment industry is not aware of the workings of the internet, while the tech industry is, both the industry have been fighting piracy. But comparatively tech industry is more capable of dealing with it. I think a collaboration between the two is needed, with both of them coming together to frame a new act, look up the alternative of sopa, the open act.
4. their are technologies available like encryption, which can fight sopa, but technology is a never ending war, thus I introduce the idea that the media industry needs tech guys with the job of just fighting piracy, by employing high tech defenses against piracy, this will also increase jobs
5.  this act targets the end point of piracy, efforts must also be made to track and punish the starting points of piracy, the entertainment industry must make up an intelligence wing or hire up an intelligence service to check up how  the pirated material actually enters the internet, 
6. the definition of piracy and exactly who can sue for violation must be clearly defined, 
7. the various websites and there functionality must  be understood by the entertainment industry to know which websites are promoting piracy, and which are just a medium for the pirated product to travel the internet
8. the penalty must be for the websites which are actively promoting piracy, the medium websites, must be served a notice , with the information of the pirated source as found by the prosecutor and then they must have an obligation to take down that material, eg, if i post a pirated video on YouTube, that video must be taken down. any links to sites containing piracy must be censored by Google etc( on notice from the prosecutor about the copyrighted material), 
9. only the persons actively responsible for doing piracy and promoting it must be punished, that is if x steals a movie, loads a torrent, y downloads it and saves it into his computer, z downloads it and loads into YouTube.
all these different cases must be dealt differently,--
  x must be punishable under law, 
in case of y as there are also huge number of non customers, a law punishing a case y will be draconian,. The problem here is that it is impossible to track the millions of downloads of a copyrighted material, as there are methods to track the number of downloads of any file in the internet, the person x who originated the download must pay compensation according to a percentage of the number of downloads done.

z ---- this is the case of promoting an already pirated product, here also there are millions of users who post videos online, in this case they must be obligated under law to reveal the source of the material, so that it can be tracked back to x, also such a notice must be served as an email to the user z by the website where the pirated video is posted. in case the user doesn't respond to notification via email or phone up to a set period of  time, he can be assumed to follow the same role as x and a final warning must be issued( if they are not exactly sure about from who they downloaded the copyrighted material, they must show a will to cooperate by telling the source website or some other helpful data to help track the pirate)

10. there must be also huge compensation for false copyright violation claims, so that only whose who are genuinely affected have benefits.