Internet Blackout

Is internet regulation really so bad?

By Jonathan Sebire

JANUARY 18TH saw unprecedented protests against tighter online regulation as website giant Wikileaks led a raft of click here companies including Reddit and usefull link Mozilla who ‘went dark’ by restricting access to their sites. The protests managed to derail two anti piracy bills before the US House of Congress; Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), but was this a good thing? Does an open and free internet have to tolerate piracy, and if not can freedoms of open information and free speech be maintained with regulation in place? >>


1. SOPA and PIPA were bad examples of the right thing

WHILST it might now be universally agreed that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) were the wrong legislative vehicles it’s also a fact that internet piracy is bad. And though President Obama dismissed SOPA & PIPA for their potential invasive aspects he renewed the governments commitment to tackling online piracy which in days saw content sharing site Megaupload shut down.

2. Piracy destroys economies

ONLINE piracy costs US economy US$200 to US$250 billion per year which has led to the loss of 750,000 American jobs. SOPA and PIPA aimed to take websites, whether operating inside the US or outside, offline. In the UK parliament is seeking to pass the Digital Economy Act in order to combat £400million losses every year. Leaving the internet unregulated will have a tangible impact on the quality of life of the population as a whole.

3. The Megaupload incident proves we need online copyright legislation

A WASHINGTON POST editorial noted: “A free and viable Internet is essential to nurturing and sustaining the kinds of revolutionary innovations that have touched every aspect of modern life. But freedom and lawlessness are not synonymous.” And that whilst Megaupload may have been modern day success story with over 50million daily users and $175million in profits, in infringed copyright content it was costing businesses $500million. Because Megaupload was based in the US this allowed the Justice Department to close the site; without legislation there would be no protections against foreign based sites.

4. There are viable alternatives

COMPANIES such as Google and Reddit who took part in the online blackout protests have already suggested their own regulation in the form of OPEN Senate and House Bills which could use the International Trade Commission to regulate online copyright infringement. There has been approval of OPEN (Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act), Reddit CEO Erik Martin calls it a “good start”, from the online and tech communities; although entertainment companies are not fans. However it proves that compromise can be reached.

5. The Wikipeidia protest was misguided

WHEN Wikipeidia founder Jimmy Wale announced that he was going to make Wikipeidia “go dark” he was applauded from many sectors. But there was some surprising resistance. Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo called the protest “silly” and “foolish” stating on Twitter: “That’s just silly. Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish.” Whilst Associated Press reported that some Wikipeidia editors questioned Wale’s approach as fighting censorship with censorship.


1. Regulation is bad for business

DISCUSSING the potential impacts of SOPA like legislation Market Watch highlights the case of Wikileaks who had their finances frozen by online payment companies such as Paypal and Mastercard after pressure from the US Government. Under SOPA even more companies and start-ups would have had their assets frozen due to the actions of liquid cialis their users contributions as well as having advertisers forced to suspend services, essentially censoring the internet through the backdoor, and choking off start up businesses.

2. SOPA & PIPA fundamentally misunderstand the internet

THE answer to online piracy is not legislation or censorship of the internet. Several commentators believe that the solution lies in better technology. Alex Fowler, who works on Global Privacy and Public Policy for Mozilla believes that companies and governments are making a grave mistake pursuing regulation when they should be embracing new technology: “Mozilla believes that instead of alienating Internet companies and startups on this issue, the entertainment industry should be partnering with us to explore new and innovative technology solutions that work with the open Web.” He cites the fact that monetised solutions that work and embrace new technology came from outsiders like Apple and Netflix, not the major entertainment companies.

3. Piracy estimates are unsubstantiated

THERE are no shortage of figures available for what governments and the entertainment industry estimates online piracy costs every year, and these figures are used to justify all sorts of job protection measures. But as the economics bloggers Freakonomics note “these figures are truly dire.” In fact US Government estimates would put the number of jobs lost to online piracy at 750,000, a figure double the total number of employees in the motion picture industry in 2010. In fact in 2010 the Government Accountability Office released a report that said the buy now online viagra figures: “cannot be substantiated or traced back to an underlying data source or methodology.” Essential rendering the figures meaningless and suggesting they are a means to an end for invasive legislation.

4. Extra legislation is not required

THE nature of the internet means that legislation is completely counter to its ethos. As Russian Minister for Communications and Mass Media, Igor Shchegolev, told, Governments and industries are better suited working with online leaders to create a code of conduct for the internet rather than try and order prescription viagra impose regulation that can be negated simply by one or two states refusing to come into the common system. It would also allow states that do not have the political capacity to sign legally binding legislation to join and take steps towards developing a free and responsible internet, rather than becoming ostracised rogue online states.

5. The internet must remain free and open

THE Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, OSCE, representative on Freedom in Media, Dunja Mijatovi, has highlighted the need for retaining a free and open internet:  “Guaranteeing freedom of expression and intellectual property rights is generic viagra next day delivery important for a thriving creative industry in our information societies,” Mijatović said. “At the same time, copyright laws should be limited in time and scope, encourage innovation and not hinder the free flow of information and freedom of speech, especially on buy viagra on line the Internet and across borders.”