Nope-a-SOPA: Some Quick Alternatives for Preventing Piracy

Nope-a-SOPA: Some Quick Alternatives for Preventing Piracy

Whether SOPA arises from the ashes cannot be answered today. But in the vacuum of SOPA's demise, several alternatives have been offered. Keep your blackouts at bay - maybe there's a solution upon which we can all agree.

How about a Tax?

Dean Baker of Truthout wants to (in a way) put copyrights to bed. He recognizes that the issue isn't as much about piracy prevention as it is about payment. Unlike SOPA, he doesn't want to put a muffle on the internet. Instead, he wants to generate payment for creativity:

One route would be to allow individuals a modest refundable tax credit - an artistic freedom voucher (AFV) - that would allow them to give $75-$100 a year to support creative work. This money could either go directly to the worker or to an intermediary that supports specific types of creative work (e.g. an intermediary may finance action films, jazz music or mystery novels).

Creative workers would be funded with this tax revenue. However, the funding comes with a catch:

The other condition for receiving the money is that the person would be ineligible for copyright protection for a substantial period of time (e.g. five  years) after collecting money through the AFV system. This rule is to prevent the AFV system from turning into a farm system for the entertainment industry.

Be Responsible but without the Government

Mariellen Jewers of policymic argues that business models must change, not the law. In the grand scheme, consumers are the true victims as "both sides of the piracy debate benefit from not changing."

The old business plans that cannot survive in a new economy get privileges they should not have, and new companies can make a lot of money from inefficiencies.

The article backs away from a legislative answer and moves towards a market answer. The solution is (if possible) a meeting of the minds:

If internet companies and the traditional media industry really wanted to protect creative innovation and free speech, then they would sit down together and work out an agreement. There is shared responsibility of the private sector to foster a free, fair and safe online economy.

If Not SOPA, Then OPEN

Or what about another acronym, but this time OPEN, a/k/a the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act. As Mashable reports, Google's all in for OPEN, which would subtract the Justice Department from the enforcement equation and replace it with the International Trade Commission. Despite Google's endorsement, OPEN's been cooling its heels in the shade. As the Mashable article reports:

One reason that the bills haven't gotten much attention is that the entertainment industry isn't behind them, primarily because of objections over the ITC's ability to enforce online piracy. However, the bills are also being sidelined because of the focus on SOPA and PIPA and confusion over which House and Senate sub-committees should debate OPEN.


Of course, there's still an argument for saving the Titanic. Matt Reed of Florida Today wants SOPA fixed rather than put to sleep. He notes that the bill has "a few dubious provisions that have nothing to do with piracy and everything to do with spooky government intrusion." But does that mean it should die a painful death as trumpeted by the big internet players? If something's broke, can't it be fixed? In giving SOPA a second life, Mr. Reed wants to trash:

  • prosecutorial powers against materials deemed "intended for use in a national security, law enforcement or critical infrastructure application;" and
  • criminal liability for Internet companies that process a rogue site's credit-card payments, list it in search results or deliver its advertisements to web pages.

But he would keep:

  • prosecutorial powers against foreign Internet sites "dedicated to infringement;" and
  • defining offending sites as those with no other purpose but to steal intellectual property and sell counterfeit goods.

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