Wednesday, December 7, 2011

PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act: A Case for Better Preparedness

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This isn’t an Argument but rather a Case for Better Preparedness and a Broader Strategic Realignment

                                It is important to note the big difference between technology firms such as Google, social media platforms such as Facebook and the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. It is unacceptable and unfair to claim to talk about a middle ground or a reasonable position of compromise that is fair without understanding how they all function as businesses.

This a comment in response to a post on TAP: Technology | Academics | Policy's Community Page on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/TAPolicy


Quoting from the article,
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/06/idUS6947526520111206

‘claims that Congress’ efforts against online piracy would “break the internet” and usher in censorship and “Finding a reasonable solution to the problem of online piracy and counterfeiting is too important to let hysterical, ideological posturing and threats influence public policy,”

…… these types of responses are completely understandable and absolutely expected and anticipated by most people in the technology industry. It is sad that even in this day and age despite all the progress and radical growth and impact that we have seen, some people still think of the internet as a place that is mostly or solely meant for sharing music, movies and proprietary digital content. I’m quiet certain that given this attitude the people entrusted with the job are not likely to focus on the challenges, that will greatly impact the way in which many sites are carefully designed and function around the way in which people openly and freely use the internet. Technology firms have to constantly adapt to people, their consumers, the average internet user, the competition and the trends and a comprehensive sketch of their patterns of behavior, market conditions and changing habits online. Sales and Marketing strategies for most internet based commercial transactions and even for media giants are based firmly on many of these highly relevant fundamentals that are intrinsic to how the Internet works and evolves. The condescending naivety with which these things are ignorantly referred to as ‘Hysteria and ideological posturing’ unmistakably proves that the issues that are central and matter evenly from the perspectives of all parties concerned, including sites such as Google, social media platforms, small/ medium sized businesses, independent publishers, the internet itself and the public who use it, are least likely to be considered on the basis of facts and rational argumentation.

                               This is strictly an opinion……:I think it is important for people, especially high profile technology firms and highly used websites to stop worrying about or wasting anymore time dealing with these types of policies and the market conditions and legal/economic environments that may come about, and start embracing new strategies to allocate a budget and try their best to develop neutral technologies and neutral technological barriers that will fully enable them to selectively or terminally insulate themselves from certain sections of mainstream media that are most likely to abuse the provisions of this Act and also make efforts to protect themselves from a legal system that may affect the environment in which their business processes function or provisions that could be used to unfairly target them, their media partners and ultimately their business itself. If you wish to engage in business or promote sales and business interests of big content owners then you must carefully setup the mechanism to ensure everything occurs contractually and not otherwise. It is also highly advisable to buy insurance coverage for legal liabilities or allocate sizable amount of funds to safeguard against these types of possible risks and threats (Many publishers and firms who were anticipating this and that I’m aware of have millions in coverage and pay hefty premiums as an added overhead to their existing budgets) .




                              The public must use the example of China and see what has happened to their internet users in the recent past to psychologically prepare themselves to start having access to only a certain percentage of sites, servers and domains present on the World Wide Web and be very…. Very….. careful as to how they use the internet or rather how they should not use the internet to share any copyright protected content whether it is for their personal use or if it is with their friends, their family or on other social media platforms. Even if they have their own content which they may wish to publish online they must take extra measures to avoid placing any third party media elements on the site or incase they don’t have the financial backing they must also avoid making references to potentially harmful material that could be used again to implicate them legally under the provisions of the Acts. I’m not expecting it but I hope and pray that the people who are rushing to promote these laws will show the same level of enthusiasm when it comes to educating the masses and the online community about the exactly ‘N’ number of ways in which they could be in trouble while sharing online or while assuming that they are exercising their constitutional rights. This will make these companies with an online presence responsible for the actions of people who may choose to supposedly, deliberately or allegedly “misuse” the technologies and platforms that they are providing or in other words they’ll be the first to be held responsible if the measures that they have in place fail.

                                   I’m not saying that we are another China – II in the making, but we are definitely starting to look something like many of these countries especially since people and industries here are desperately trying to stay ahead and in many cases are trying to stay in par with the competition, especially in terms of growth, advancing technologically and having the financial health, resources, supporting industries/infrastructure and the means to realign the strategic outlook of their future.

The people in China didn’t make a lot of noise and even if they did there is no way you could have heard it,

http://mashable.com/2011/07/13/china-web-shutdown/

http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/22/google-shuts-down-chinese-search-redirects-to-hong-kong/

http://thenextweb.com/asia/2011/06/08/china-increases-internet-control-takes-down-hundreds-of-websites/

http://mashable.com/follow/topics/internet-freedom/


                                       I hope the following link clearly hints you to accept the fact that industries here, that could and should potentially complement and even achieve a great synergy in many ways, are not quiet any where near doing the same. Where there is self centeredness there can be no synergy.



http://www.ucsdguardian.org/component/k2/item/25186-quicktakes-stop-online-piracy-act

http://www.mercurynews.com/politics-government/ci_19472833


                    I’m an optimist, I believe that adapting to problems and adopting solutions aggressively is the key mantra to survival in this day and age. Time is too precious a resource that can easily outweigh all others. It takes a reasonably intelligent and logical mind to respect the rights, the freedoms, the time, the lives, the voices and the problems of others.

                      I don't know if there is a difference of mentality or outlook or culture when it comes to the people working in the concerned industries, I don't know if this difference is irreconcilable either but there comes a point where we have to look beyond mere arguments and our differences and think of the collective higher good. Showbiz can be a funny word that means different things to different people, art to some, ratings to others and $Money$ to the people who matter the most. Business can get dirty at times and life can get tricky, but we need to appreciate and learn by dealing with the challenges we face rather than imposing them in a way that sidelines the rights of others and the public who are outside the industry and don't quiet understand what are the substantial and legitimate concerns that plague the industry, address and bring out those issues in a way that will not cause it to be confused with other broader rights. I wish every one both my dear friends in Technology and others in the Entertainment/ media industry the very best. Why argue when you have the means and the choice of being civilized enough to talk and state your concerns in a respectful, constructive and viable way. It doesn’t matter who or what you represent or what your business interests are, there is nothing you can’t achieve by putting people first above all else : )

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