Human Readable Explanation of the Problems with SOPA/PIPA

Mitchell Baker, head lizard wrangler for Mozilla, has a very clear post for those still struggling to understand the problems with the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation. As maker of the Firefox browser and a very active organization in shaping many new developments on the web, Mozilla has a huge stake in the outcome.

I like Mitchell’s analogy of a store. While not perfect as the costs of altering virtual directories and digital maps is different than their physical counterparts, the overall absurdity of trying to legislate around a blatant pirate site is no less absurd.

The solution under the proposed bills is to make it as difficult as possible to find or interact with the store. Maps showing the location of the store must be changed to hide it(1). The road to the store must be blocked off so that it’s difficult to physically get to there(2). Directory services must unlist the store’s phone number and address(3). Credit card companies(4) would have to cease providing services to the store. Local newspapers would no longer be allowed to place ads for the video store(5). And to make sure it all happens, any person or organization who doesn’t do this is subject to penalties(6). Even publishing a newsletter that tells people where the store is would be prohibited by this legislation(7).

Her conclusion is also compelling to me, that SOPA and PIPA are ill timed as the world of online content is heavily in flux. The implication is that many of the solutions we might consider would be bad fits, not just DNS blocking and the other measures in these bills. She admits room as well for those that prefer to make user of existing, traditional business models where an author prefers to limit access and use a per-per-view model.

PIPA/SOPA and Why You Should Care, Lizard Wrangling

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