Congressional leaders announced today that they were putting the extremely controversial antipiracy bills PIPA and SOPA on hold for the immediate future – possibly because Congress actually does listen to the public once a decade, possibly because Congress only just now learned that you’re not supposed to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but most likely because Congress kept on trying to go on Wikipedia a couple days ago and got really annoyed by the black screen. As reported by CBS News, Senate Majority Reader Harry Reid postponed Tuesday’s procedural vote on PIPA, while Reid’s Republican body double Lamar Smith similarly postponed the consideration of SOPA in the House.
Reid struck a note of vapid diplomacy in his statements, noting that he felt an urge “to forge a balance between protecting American’s intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the Internet.” Smith’s statements also expressed a willingness to compromise, although he said he was still devoted to fighting “the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.” Senator Patrick Leahy continued the anti-foreigner trend, noting:
“Somewhere in China today, in Russia today, and in many other countries that do not respect American intellectual property, criminals who do nothing but peddle in counterfeit products and stolen American content are smugly watching how the United States Senate decided it was not even worth debating how to stop the overseas criminals from draining our economy.”
Which sounds rather grandiose, but keep in mind: Patrick Leahy once faced down the Joker.
Meanwhile, in Hollywood, MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd (right) released a statement noting that “as a consequence of failing to act, there will continue to be a safe haven for foreign thieves; American jobs will continue to be lost; and consumers will continue to be exposed to fraudulent and dangerous products peddled by foreign criminals.”
All of which are extremely debatable statements. Jobs are always lost during a period of technological evolution. I’m not even entirely sure what he means by “fraudulent and dangerous products,” unless he’s referring to the fact that sometimes when my friend who’s totally not me used to download 24 on Bittorrent it would come with Chinese subtitles. Also, people who look like “foreign thieves” to us look like entrepreneurs in their own country.
Keep in mind: In the early 20th century, brilliant inventor and total douche bag Thomas Edison essentially owned a patent on the whole method of making movies. Edison would send out his bullyboys around New York to seize equipment from anyone who wouldn’t pay his exorbitant fees. So the early film businessmen fled across the country to Los Angeles, which is where they illegally perfected the most important popular art form of the 20th century. You could argue that those dashing young geek-thieves in China and Russia are merely continuing the cycle of creative destruction.
“History? Boring!” says Hollywood. With yesterday’s shutdown of Megaupload and Megavideo, it’s fair to say that the film-TV industry is encouraging the government to essentially follow the same antipiracy game plan that the music industry established ten years ago. Which is a brilliant plan, since we can all agree that the music industry has never been healthier than it is today.
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