Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We All Have Copyright

SOPA and PIPA are, let's face it, bad.

Al Gore may have claimed to have invented the internet, and in a way he did, by sponsoring the Digital Millennium Act. The DMA has a number of principles, including that online trades are not taxed and that the interchange of data over internet networks remains neutral. It was as important to the growth of the internet as the development of HTML and the world wide web by Sir Tim Berners Lee in my opinion.

But the DMA has been hijacked by companies who have created virtual online monopolies such as Google and Facebook, the vampire squids of the online world. They blatantly use other people's IP as their own and build massive businesses on the back of this. Imagine if we all charged Facebook copyright for the content we freely give them ?

The problem is, we either have copyright, or we don't. Online users glibly click on those 'I Agree' buttons that link to sixty page legal terms drafted by the finest legal brains of our generation. What chance does a user to ask the service provider 'Do You Agree to MY Terms ?' ?

If Wayne Rooney can make money from his resurfaced head, so can I. If anyone takes my photo and publishes it anywhere, they owe me. And that includes on Facebook.

If Google links to pirated content on the internet, they have the same liability as a student from Sheffield in threat of extradition (how can this be right ?), or anyone else who actively supports piracy (for Godsakes, Google puts its own ads around content pirated using its own services... A vampire's vampire...).

In the past, Governments were concerned about monopolies, about organisations that fundamentally worked outside the spirit of the law. In the Uk there is no longer any monopoly legislation of any meaningful kind, hence Google's total monopoly on online text advertising and virtual monopoly on display advertising. Imagine if a newspaper was in this position!

SOPA and PIPA represent one part of big business against another part of big business. What we actually need is another Al Gore - someone who will stand up for freedom, free markets, but also protect the value generated by small entrepreneurs, from traders to musicians and film-makers, who are now horribly exploited by the new online big businesses.

The real irony of this is that Sky has been shutting down Al Gore's Current TV channel across Europe.  We're in a new era, where the big guys are bigger than ever. And there aren't many of them.

So, I demand that I have the same protection to my rights and that anything I post or contribute to their sites remains mine, and that I share in the money they make from my contribution.