The White House has weighed in on the Online Piracy Act. They are clearly walking a tightrope between two competing powers, both of which have traditionally supported Democrats. On one side there is Hollywood and the music industry and on the other is Google. There has been an incredible amount of misinformation floating around about piracy for years and of course there are also some real bully boys who will threaten anyone who opposes their right to “free culture.” We have had these battles for two years on this blog. So here is my thoughts about all of this.
Google– The world’s largest search engine has made hundreds of millions allowing makers of pirated or counterfeit goods to advertise using Google Ad Words. It signed a non-prosecution agreement with the Federal Government and agreed to forgo $500,000,000 worth of counterfeit drug advertising. Google does not want to stop the worldwide revenue it gets from pirated content advertising. Google and it’s competitors could eliminate the need for Piracy legislation by immediately adopting the following rules:
- We won’t sell advertising on pirate websites.
- We won’t have our search engine link to pirate websites that can’t prove they have legitimate licenses to the content they host.
- We will stop pretending we can’t control what gets posted on You Tube.
Hollywood and the Music Business– What I can’t figure out is how did movies and music get to a position that the public feels they are entitled to these works for free? So you never feel you are entitled to a meal at a restaurant for free, do you? What is it about digital entertainment: movies, music, TV and very soon, books that makes them special? Why should the worker in these business not get paid? We built a knowledge society, and the best products we export are all digital objects of desire. But no one seems to care about the notions of intellectual property. It’s so self destructive.
So the President has to thread the needle. That’s why the statement yesterday from the White House was important.
We expect and encourage all private parties, including both content creators and Internet platform providers working together, to adopt voluntary measures and best practices to reduce online piracy.
Google could begin these voluntary measures listed above and reduce the pressure to push a flawed act through Congress. Without some middle ground this whole discussion is going in a very stupid direction.